Brussels, 15 October 2007
Today the European Commission adopted a decision on the UK list of events of major importance for society to be broadcast free to air, either live or with a slight delay. The list covers not only international events like the Rugby World Cup Final, the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup Finals but also more specific national events like Cricket matches, the Grand National, the Derby, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.
"I particularly welcome the confirmation that sport fans in the UK can fully benefit from the principle of mutual recognition for the events of major importance, as warranted by EU's Television without frontiers Directive" said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "The UK not only has a tradition of organising major sporting events that attract significant TV audiences all over Europe, but it also has a very well developed market for the sale of broadcasting rights for such events. The UK list covers sports events that have universal appeal and should be made accessible to the widest possible audiences".
The Television without Frontiers Directive (TVwF) lays down framework conditions in which the public may be guaranteed free access to the broadcasts of events of major importance to society. Each Member State is entitled to draw up a list of such events, which must then be broadcast unencrypted even if exclusive rights have been bought by pay-television stations.
On the basis of the principle of mutual recognition, Member States must ensure that broadcasters under their jurisdiction respect the lists of other Member States notified to the Commission, which have to be compatible with Community Law.
The UK's list of Sporting Events was first published in the Official Journal C 328/2 on 18 November 2000.
By taking this decision, the Commission now implements the Court of First Instance ruling of 15 December 2005 (Case T-33/01). This states that a Commission decision taken in relation to Article 3a paragraph 2 TVwF on the compatibility of measures taken by a Member State, i.e. the list of events of major importance for society, has binding legal effects. Such decisions therefore have to be taken by the Commission college.
On the list of major events published by other EU countries, see:
The UK list comprises the following events:
Group A (full live coverage):
The FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament
The FA Cup Final
The Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland)
The Grand National
The Wimbledon Tennis Finals
The European Football Championship Finals Tournament
The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
The Rugby World Cup Final
Group B (adequate secondary coverage):
Cricket Test Matches played in England
Non-Finals play in the Wimbledon Tournament
All other matches in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament
Six Nations Rugby Tournament matches involving Home Countries
The Commonwealth Games
The World Athletics Championship
The Cricket World Cup — the Finals, Semi-finals and Matches involving Home Nations' Teams
The Ryder Cup
The Open Golf Championship.