MPs are demanding answers from Six Nations organisers over its bidding process for broadcasting rights amid reports the competition could be about to go off free-to-air television.
Sky are reported to be interested in securing the rights to the tournament, which is currently shared between the BBC and ITV.
However, it is reported that joint bids will not be permitted for the next tender process, which would appear to put Sky in a good position to acquire the rights.
Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, has written to Six Nations Council chairman John Jeffrey to express his concerns.
The tournament is currently listed as a Category B event under the 1996 Broadcasting Act, which means it can be shown on pay television provided highlights packages are made available free-to-air.
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Jim Hamilton discusses the ramifications of Six Nations going behind a TV paywall
“It’s of huge concern to see there is a bidding war that could take the Six Nations behind a paywall,” Knight said in a DCMS comittee press release, separate to the letter.
“Charging rugby fans to watch the tournament on TV would go against the spirit of broadcasting rules intended to ensure that sporting events like this are freely available to all.
“We’re demanding answers about the process and want reassurance about reports that suggest the favourite to win with a multi-million pound bid would take the Six Nations off terrestrial screens.
“We cannot allow this to be a deal done behind closed doors. Fans have a stake in this and a right to know what’s going on.”
– Press Association
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