The Six Nations should be designated as a category A event by the British Government to ensure it remains on free-to-air television, according to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

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The DCMS committee said it was making this request after the Six Nations Council “failed to give a clear answer” to its questions about whether it had held discussions with the government about moving it from category B.

Six Nations won’t rule out TV paywall

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Category B events can be fully behind a paywall in terms of live coverage, provided highlights are made available on terrestrial television.

The DCMS committee said the Six Nations council had confirmed it would allow broadcasters to share rights in the tender process for 2022 onwards, opening up the possibility of a new joint BBC and ITV bid to combat a reported £300million bid from Sky Sports. BBC and ITV currently share the live rights.

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight said: “We’re pleased that in response to our letters, Six Nations has confirmed that joint bids from broadcasters are now being considered.

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“When we put this to (outgoing BBC director-general) Lord Hall, he confirmed that the BBC had put in a bid that would involve a sub-license with ITV.

“We welcome the BBC’s acknowledgement and thanks for the role this committee has played in the debate, including the step we’ve taken to formally request that DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden considers moving the Six Nations from Category B to Category A of listed sports.

“Such a move would ensure the championship remains available via free-to-air channels. We await his response next week.”

– Press Association 

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