TV parity: UK government wants to ‘list’ major women’s events for free broadcast

September 20 – The rapid rise of the women’s game and the profile of the Women’s World Cup has prompted the UK government to call for a number of top tier women’s events to be added to the country’s ‘listed’ sports events that must be broadcast in free-to-air television.

UK culture minister Nicky Morgan has written to broadcasters seeking their support and expanded her proposal in a Royal Television Society speech saying: “Where a men’s event is listed, the women’s equivalent would be too. This would be an important step in giving female sporting talent the coverage they deserve and putting men’s and women’s sport on an equal footing at last.”

The current football competitions in the listed events (the so-called ‘Crown jewels’) are the men’s competitions of the FIFA World Cup Finals tournament, the UEFA European Football Championship finals tournament, the FA Cup and the Scottish FA Cup (in Scotland). These are no women’s competitions listed.

“A record-breaking 28 million people tuned into the women’s World Cup. I want to build on this momentum and make sure future generations of female sporting talent can be inspired by who they see on their screens,” said Morgan.

Ensuring the events are aired on free TV will keep the women’s game in the public eye at crucial time for the development of women’s football as it build both players and fan groups. The alternative would be to see it potentially drift towards the pay TV networks (principally Sky and BT Sport) and their OTT competitors like Amazon and Facebook, though it is unlikely that those platforms would be prepared to pay major rights fees in the currently disrupted broadcast market.

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