Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


The Central Council of Physical Recreation


  1.  The quantity and quality of sports coverage broadcast on television has grown significantly in recent years since the entry into the market of subscription channels distributed via cable or satellite. This development has been to the benefit of major spectator sports in the UK and the sporting public alike. The governing bodies which are signatories to this document have all sought to apply a share of these resources in order to secure the development of their sports. They can demonstrate clear improvements as a result. They have also sought to ensure that the general public have access to view a range of major national sporting events, as they recognise that the coverage of sport at its best will stimulate and deepen interest in their sports, and encourage greater sponsorship support. They believe that the individual governing bodies of sport are in a position to strike an appropriate balance between best commercial advantage and the wider long-term interests of their sports and the sporting public.

  2.  However, recognising the widespread interest in the availability on television and radio of major national sporting events, and mindful as ever of their reponsibilities to their sports and the general public, the undersigned governing bodies of major sports, after discussion with the Sports Council, have agreed a Code of Practice to determine the principles by which the sale of broadcasting rights should be negotiated and lay those principles clearly before Parliament and the public.


  3.  The Code of Practice hereby agreed recognises the role of governing bodies in negotiating with all broadcasters to obtain either the best market rate or other preferred financial arrangements for event coverage. The signatories acknowledge that the duties of sports bodies to maximise income from rights sales for the benefit of their sports and the desirability of the widest possible broadcasting exposure may not always coincide. They undertake to make every reasonable effort to strike a balance between these objectives that is in the best interest of sports development and the wider sporting public alike.

  4.  The central principle of this Code is to ensure that coverage of major sporting events will be available to the general public in live, recorded and/or highlights programmes.

  5.  Therefore, a principle objective in any negotiation that a signatory may undertake will be-assuming interest on the part of the broadcasters-to provide for the availability, at a fair market price, of either live, recorded or highlights coverage of the event on a terrestrial channel, on the one hand, and on any subscription channel on the other. A fair market price in relation to highlights should take into consideration all the relevant factors and the value of the exclusive live rights. This shall not exclude the absolute right of the party securing live rights also to show highlights of the event, if the party has purchased those rights.

  6.  A further negotiating objective of the governing body will be to ensure that acquisition of exclusive television rights shall not preclude simultaneous radio commentary.


  7.  The Code of Conduct will be monitored by an ad hoc Committee, Chaired by an independent Chairman, and comprising of representatives from the participating bodies, the CCPR Major Spectator Sports Division, the Sports Council, and at least one other independent member.

  8.  This Committee will in turn appoint a panel of independent expert advisers, whose Chairman shall report to the main Monitoring Committee and, failing appropriate response, will be able to report publicly on any derogation that may have been perceived or alleged from the terms of spirit of this Code. The full terms of reference of the Committee and the Panel will be published and will ensure the independence of the Chairman of the Panel from the governing bodies. In framing these terms of reference, rigour and transparency in monitoring and appeal procedures will be assured.

  9.  Other sports bodies which are considering signing the Code may be invited to send observers to Committee Meetings as judged appropriate by the Committee.


  10.  The signatories acknowledge the desirability of widely available broadcast coverage in order to sustain interest in national sporting events and to encourage the future development of individual sports. They recognise the important part played in this over the years by the terrestrial broadcasters and value their continuing relationships with those organisations.

  11.  However, the governing bodies also welcome the fact that continuing technological developments in broadcasting are greatly expanding the number of channels. These have provided opportunities for the in-depth broadcasting of substantial numbers of sporting events never previously available on television and have brought extra revenue into sport. This channel growth also enables full coverage of events that the terrestrial channels cannot currently schedule, for example, the recent Cricket World Cup.

  12.  It is recognised that a major factor in the negotiation of broadcasting rights will be the scheduling requirements and policies of broadcasters and that these will primarily determine the fees that they are prepared to offer and the contractual terms they are prepared to agree. These factors are not within the control of the sporting bodies. However, the signatories express the hope that broadcasters will endorse the spirit of this Code and act in accordance with it.


  13.  The Code will apply to governing bodies representing the following sports:-

    —  UK Athletics

    —  The Football Association Limited

    —  The Lawn Tennis Association

    —  PGA European Tour

    —  The FA Premier League

    —  The Racecourse Association Limited

    —  Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

    —  The Rugby Football League

    —  The Rugby Football Union

    —  The England and Wales Cricket Board

  Representatives of other sports may adhere to the Code on similar terms, as may other UK bodies which have control of broadcasting rights to major national sporting events.

  14.  The Code will apply for a maximum of five years from the date of its initial signing, irrespective of whether other sports bodies become signatories at a late date. It will be subject to a full interim review, in consultation with the Sports Councils, no later than the end of the third year after signing. Results of that review and any proposals for modification will be notified to Parliament.

  15.  Any Party is free to withdraw for five years, but if so doing, will undertake to publish a written notice to the Monitoring Committee of their reasons.

  16.  The principles of this Code will apply to all events, the television rights to which are solely under the ownership or control of the participating UK governing bodies, or other signatories to this Code, which have significant national or international standing.

  17.  The signatories of this Code will respect any convention on news access agreed between UK broadcasters.

  18.  The participating governing bodies and any other signatories will encourage the organisers of international games which take place within the UK to honour the principles of the Code.


  19.  The signatories reaffirm the financial benefits to sport that follow from a wider competitive market in broadcasting. In view of this, while accepting the provision of the Broadcasting Act 1990, they would respectfully request that no further restrictions should be placed on the sale of rights beyond those which they voluntarily undertake under this Code.

  20.  Without prejudice to their general policy of not hypothecating items of revenue to particular purposes, the governing bodies undertake to nominate a proportion of the total fees from UK Broadcasting sales of events covered by this Code which may vary, but shall in no year be less than 5 per cent of that part of event income as an earmarked contribution to the development of their sport. Subject always to fluctuations in the overall income they may receive in each financial year, they will endeavour to ensure that this "special development contribution" from fee income is not offset by reductions in other development funds.

  21.  Use of this special development money will be notified publicly and in the individual sport's annual operational or corporate/development plan. A sample list of projects supported will be published as an appendix to the plan.


  22.  The governing bodies draw attention to the fact that, both technically and commercially, the pace of change in broadcasting remains very rapid. It may therefore not be practical at any given time to fix a regime for governing decisions on the broadcasting of sport that will be both suitable and stable over any extended period of time. There are also distinct differences between the nature of individual sports and, as a result, between the most appropriate contractual arrangements for broadcasting each of them.

  23.  Nonetheless, bearing in mind the importance of these issues to the sporting public, the undersigned have come together to agree between them this Code of Conduct, whose main aim is to ensure that all major sporting events may in future become available to the general public in live, recorded or highlights form.

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Prepared 28 March 2001