Senior MPs condemn moves to take Six Nations off terrestrial TV
A powerful Commons committee has hit out at moves which could see the Six Nations rugby tournament taken off terrestrial TV.
Sky is reported to be in prime position to win the £300m contract to broadcast the tournament from 2022.
At the moment, BBC and ITV share the rights to show the clashes between England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy.
Julian Knight MP, the Conservative chair of the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has not written to the Six Nations Council - which runs the annual tournament - voicing his opposition to the move.
He said: "It’s of huge concern to see there’s a bidding war that could take the Six Nations behind a paywall.
"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."
In a statement at the weekend, the Six Nations said any suggestion that a decision had been taken on who will be awarded the contract was "highly premature".
It said: "Six Nations are in the process of seeking bids for various sets of media rights but these are not due for some time.
"All of this is highly premature and speculative as no proposals have yet been received by any interested party.
"We would not rule anything out at this stage and the unions will collectively review and make a decision based on the nature of the offers received."