Six Nations should remain free-to-air

Published 25/04/2024   |   Last Updated 30/04/2024   |   Reading Time minutes

The Senedd’s Sport Committee is today calling for the rugby Six Nations Championship to be protected so that it can remain free for people to watch on television.

Arguing that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport should move the Six Nations Championship from being a Group B event to being a Group A as part of the listed events regime under the Broadcasting Act 1996.

This would mean that the Six Nations would join the FA Cup Final, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Women's Football World Cup and European Championships as protected free-to-air tournaments.

The Committee is also recommending that the Welsh Government support this call.

"A unique role in our national life"

Delyth Jewell MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee said:

“Rugby in Wales plays a unique role in our national life, and in particular the Six Nations, holds a special place for Welsh audiences. This was never far from our minds when we made the decision to call for it to be protected as a free-to-air tournament.

“We’ve heard loudly and clearly about the challenges the sport faces in terms of reduced playing numbers in Wales. Concerns have equally been raised with us about the effects of placing the tournament behind a paywall and the impact that could have on playing numbers – we were told that ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’

“Many recognise the damaging effects that have been seen by putting cricket in the UK behind a paywall in 2006. Between 2006 and 2015, there was a 32% reduction in playing numbers. The same cannot be allowed to happen to rugby.

“Growing up, young people in Wales are inspired to take part in sport by watching rugby and it’s essential that the Six Nations tournament stays as accessible as possible."

Welsh language coverage

The Committee also believes that Welsh language broadcasting of the Six Nations must be protected.

Today’s report calls for the UK Government to take steps to protect full Welsh language coverage of the Six Nations tournament.

Delyth Jewell MS added:

“Welsh language coverage must be offered in full. Providing Welsh language coverage is essential, not only in offering a choice to Welsh speakers, but also to promote the Welsh language to both speakers and learners alike as we work towards Cymraeg 2050 target.”


More on this Story

Six Nations Rugby Championship broadcasting rights. Read the report

Inquiry: Six Nations rugby broadcasting rights