SIX NATIONS rugby could disappear from free-to-air TV following the Government’s latest announcement.
But the Government has refused to place the competition on a list of Group A events – which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels [although pay television networks may share live coverage].
“Crown jewel” legislation states that public service broadcasters must have the opportunity to purchase live rights for Group A events on fair and reasonable terms.
However, there is no obligation on broadcasters to purchase the rights or on rights holders to accept any offer from those broadcasters.
But the Six Nations will remain in Group B – which only requires secondary coverage, such as highlights packages, to be shown on free-to-air TV.
This means live coverage of the tournament could move to subscription services from 2026.
A statement from the Government in response to the Welsh Affairs Committee read: “The Government believes that the current list of events works well to deliver the best outcome and that it strikes an appropriate balance and therefore we have no plans to undertake a full review of the list.
“Listing an event in either Group A or B does not guarantee that an event will be broadcast or available free-to-air.
'Crown Jewels' sporting events
Here are the sporting events which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels:
- Football: World Cup, Women’s World Cup, European Championship, FA Cup Final, Scottish Cup Final
- Horse racing: Grand National, Epsom Derby
- Rugby league: Challenge Cup final
- Rugby Union: World Cup final
- Tennis: Wimbledon
- Olympic Games
- Paralympic Games
“Rights holders are not required to sell rights to listed events and broadcasters are not obliged to purchase them or to show the events.
“The legislation sets out to ensure that where live rights to a Group A listed event are made available, they must be offered for purchase by a qualifying service – it does not require that a qualifying service is the final purchaser.”
The Six Nations has always been shown on free-to-air TV since it was first broadcast.
In November, Barbara Slater, the BBC’s outgoing director of sport, told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee they may not be able to keep hold of their Six Nations rights.
This came amid reports the BBC’s revenue had fallen by 30 per cent.