Examination of Witnesses (Questions 315
WEDNESDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2005
Mr Paul Vaughan, Mr Allan Munro and Mr David Moffett
Welcome. Thank you very much for coming. We have been looking
at the BBC Charter renewal process. We have already produced one
report and we have left to one side a number of issues which we
thought deserved further consideration. One of those was sport.
We are looking at the BBC's role in relation to sport. That is
our remit. We are looking particularly at the agreement which
flows out of the Charter between the Secretary of State and the
BBC on what it should do, and we are looking at the moment, for
example, at the Ofcom Review of Public Service Broadcasting which
showed that sport was valued as the second highest area after
news in all public service broadcasting. That places the importance
of sport. The Green Paper states that the BBC has a role in bringing
audiences together across the United Kingdom by broadcasting,
for example, sport events, particularly of national importance.
It is quite important that I tell you what our role is. We do
not want to go all over the field but we are very much relating
it to the BBC. Could I first of all ask, so that we fully understand,
what it is that the various rugby unions do. Would it be sensible
to start with the Rugby Football Union?
Mr Vaughan: Certainly. What we do probably reflects
across Scotland and Wales as well. As a governing body, we govern
the game of rugby football union in England and therefore in Scotland
and Wales. To an extent, it goes a lot further than that, in terms
of the nurturing of the game and the development of it and the
growth of it. Equally, we also run the national sides. So it is
grassroots to the top-end professional game, with the exception
in England that we do not run the professional clubs. They are
run slightly separately from our point of view. That is broadly
what we do.
Would Wales or Scotland like to add to that?
Mr Moffett: Yes. In addition to promoting the
community and the professional game, we see as a major role increasing
participation at all levels of the game, not only playing but
coaching, administering, refereeing. We see ourselves increasingly
as helping the Assembly Government achieve one of its main aims,
which is to improve the health of people in our society. We believe
that rugby in Wales, where it is a national gameand it
is not so in Scotland and Englandhas a vital role to play
in that. We are currently working very closely with the Assembly
in that regard. We see it a much greater obligation on us in Wales
to play that wider role.
Television and radio often play an important part in encouraging.
Mr Moffett: Absolutely. The importance of the
BBC to Wales cannot be underestimated because we are a small country.
We talk about the law of England and Wales. You can never lump
England and Wales together in a rugby sense; however, we are often
seen as an adjunct to England in terms of the commercial side
of it. We do not have industry, like, for example, Scotland, who
have banks and distilleries and things like that which become
sponsors of the Scottish and Rugby Union. We do not have that
in Wales, so we are always struggling to balance our books. It
is important for us, in developing this partnership with the BBC.
I mean, I may stand corrected by Paul, who has major contracts
with Sky, but I tend to think Sky would not see Wales as a particularly
attractive proposition; whereas the BBC, especially in Wales,
do. I think we work very well together in partnership. Unlike
Sky, who are there for a very commercial reason, the BBC has a
much wider role to play, as I have just outlined previously and
it is about us offering the BBC value for money. We think we can
do that by taking that wider role that I was mentioning before.
We see the BBC as very critical in reaching that bigger audience.
During this period that we are in at the moment, for example,
we get our games on the networkwhen we play New Zealand,
when we are playing South Africaso that gives little Wales
a much broader audience which we are able to tap intoso
critical for us as a small country and a small rugby union. We
have aspirations to be as good as England. We are not there yet
by a long chalkalthough we did beat them last year!
me ask Mr Munro about Scotland?
Mr Munro: I would concur with everything that
has been said so far, except that in Scotland football is the
dominant sport. I am afraid that, as far as the BBC are concerned,
it takes the bulk of their coverageand I would not say
football in general, it is Rangers and Celtic that dominate. As
a consequence, there is no coverage of anything below international
rugby whatsoever, whether it be on radio or television. That for
us makes things particularly hard. Like Wales and obviously England,
we have a similar role in trying to promote the game. It is nice
now that the Government have come onside, as it were, because
for many years we were almost fighting against the Government,
who did not pay enough attention, in our view, to sport.
you think the BBC could do more in Scotland?
Mr Munro: Yes.