Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400
WEDNESDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2005
Mr Paul Vaughan, Mr Allan Munro and Mr David Moffett
Q400 Lord King of Bridgwater:
I am sorry I missed this point. That is how you got here. Originally
England went a separate way and now it is back to a single negotiation?
Mr Vaughan: Yes.
Q401 Lord Peston:
Just to get back then and following on, I think it is fair to
say that Rugby Union is the Welsh national game. Would that be
Mr Moffett: No.
Q402 Lord Peston:
So would you then say if Wales were in a final that absolutely
ought to be a listed eventputting you on the spot because
also being a small country you would like the money?
Mr Moffett: I think it is different horses for
courses between ourselves and England, for example, which is a
much bigger market and they are able to perhaps split their rights.
We would find it difficult to do that and get the same amount
of money as if we were selling it to one, and we are not entirely
convinced that a little country like ours is going to be of much
appeal to a paying broadcaster. We are when we form a mix like
the European Cup, for example, I think Wales is quite important
in the overall mix of what broadcasters want because it is a national
sport. There are only two countries in the world where that is
the caseNew Zealand and ourselvesso we do form an
important aspect of it, but on our own I do not think we would.
As I said earlier on, in terms of listed events, I do not think
we would be averse to it as long as we could be assured by some
mechanism that we were getting the true market price or the true
negotiated price, to take your point of view, about what is the
market for television rights. I think would be our view.
Would it be true, Mr Vaughan, to follow up what Lord Peston was
asking, that you would prefer a system where frankly the fewer
Group A listed events the better?
Mr Vaughan: Yes.
Would that also be the view of the others?
Mr Munro: Probably, yes.
Q405 Lord Holme of Cheltenham:
That is to improve your bargaining power?
Mr Vaughan: Absolutely right.
Q406 Lord Peston:
The three countries are very different. What is fascinating about
having the three of you together is we have a small country where
rugby is the national game; Rugby Union is clearly not the English
national game but it is fairly successful; and then Scotland,
it is not clear to me whether Scotland has a national game, but
for you to do your job in promoting rugby and so on, you really
do need an income, do you not? Income has to be uppermost in your
Mr Munro: Absolutely. Going back to our main
role, which is that of a governing body and really there to promote
the game, we desperately need the income to do that. Fortunately,
with the change in Government attitude having won the Olympics
and Glasgow bidding for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, sport
has considerably gone up the Government's agenda. That is a help
to every sport not just rugby and football and so on. Every sport
should, I hope, now participate in trying to reduce the obesity
that is prevalent in kids. So it is a huge part.
Q407 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
If we do get rid of the listed system in this changing world of
television, how do you protect coverage of sport on terrestrial
Mr Vaughan: I think it comes back to why do
you want to protect it in the first place. If it is in order to
have breadth of coverage in order to show what we perceive to
be something that the nation owns, then that is all very worthy.
If it is about the development of a particular sport, and if you
take athletics and the Olympics for instance, the Olympics is
probably the only time that I watch athletics because it is there
and it is part of that whole Olympic thing. If it is to encourage
kids to take part in it, I think it is more fundamental than that,
it needs to go back to the education process and schools, which
is where it is all falling apart, and it is not necessarily driven
by television or radio. I do enjoy watching the Olympics and I
think it should remain a listed event, which is perverse considering
what I have just said, but we have to understand what we are trying
to do. The world is changing. If it is a listed event, is it just
the BBC? There are five terrestrial channels out there and if
we are going to go digital where everybody has to have a box,
then the world will probably change even more as the TV market
Q408 Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen:
Right at the beginning of our discussions Mr Moffett mentioned
grassroots rugby and the importance he said to the health of the
nation of sport. Do you think that the BBC could or should do
more in raising awareness of rugby and also encouraging more participation
in it at grassroots level?
Mr Moffett: Yes, they have got a role to play
in all sport, not just rugby. It is rugby because we are sitting
here talking about rugby and it being our national sport in Wales.
There is an awful lot that can be done and you can put it under
the area of education or health, if you like. I have long felt
that sport is in the wrong department. It should not be in the
DCMS; it should be in health or education, particularly it should
be in health because you can actually intervene. There is not
enough intervention I do not think in the way we look at health.
So that is where I think organisations such as the BBC have a
huge role to play and they would, I think, be seen to be "doing
the right thing" for the BBC to actually do that. We are
more than happy and I am sure the other Unions would be as well,
to sit down with the BBC and put together a strong programme of
not only rugby but perhaps other sports as well coming together
and doing something particularly aimed, as Paul said, at primary
schools and secondary schools because I think that is an important
area, and the BBC could be a huge help in that. In actual fact,
by getting our rights they also get access to a lot of the raw
material that they would need to make a programme like that work.
They get access to our international players. That can help them
get their message across or the role models we are now starting
to build in Wales. I just think that perhaps not enough is made
of the add-ons that they can actually get from their involvement
with us which then I think would also add to the whole argument
about value for money.
You make a very interesting part in passing. Sport has made its
way round Whitehall with various departments looking after it
and, of course, many people say it must have a department of its
own. Has it made any difference having a department of its own?
Mr Moffett: I am not sure if I should stray
into that area in this room. I have very strong views about it
which might get me into trouble.
Chairman: Okay, we will not press that
one. It probably comes outside our area.
Q410 Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen:
Can I just follow one thing up because I was going to ask you,
you have not at the moment raised this with the BBC?
Mr Vaughan: Exposure is terribly important to
the growth of the game without a shadow of a doubt and in fact
the BBC are just launching a ten-minute series of coaching clinics
with Jonny Wilkinson on CBBC, which is great. We have helped them
by letting them have free access to certain things that we have
got, which is fantastic, but it is not just exposure that contributes
to growth; success obviously also helps an awful lot. England
are currently the world champions of the 2003 World Cup and we
have experienced huge growth since then in terms of numbers playing,
the number of referees, and administrators and so on. But the
way in which we have done that is a mixture of exposure plus investment
in development officers out in the field who go to schools and
teach the teachers to coach and get into the primary school area
and get into all those things. So we have got a huge growth coming
through and we are still sustaining it now two years later even
though we are in a bit of a losing streak.
One other point struck me as we were talking. A number of times
we have talked about sponsorship being shown on the BBC. Many
of the people who write to me say that the great thing about the
BBC is there is no advertising. This is a grey area, is it not,
because you obviously do take some account of it when you think
of the BBC, it is not just an audience, it is the fact there is
sponsorship around the ground?
Mr Moffett: Yes we do. It is actually very important
to us in our case in trying to attract sponsors in a very difficult
market, and it is a fact that we do. It does help us run the business
of rugby in Wales by doing that.
And the same in England?
Mr Vaughan: Absolutely, it is terribly important
to be able to do that. It is often quite amusing when you read
about product placement, which is the big story in the BBC. In
Spooks, I think it was, they removed all this product placement
branding, but it is okay to do an interview with an author who
is trying to flog a book. What is the difference? I cannot quite
see it personally. So long as it is part of the fabric then I
do not see anything wrong with it at all.
It is certainly something you take into account?
Mr Vaughan: Absolutely. It is not just sponsorship,
it is advertising revenue as well from all our points of view.
Q414 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
I have just been thinking about Scotland because Scotland does
seem to be rather more on a losing streak at the moment. I wondered
to what extent some of the initiatives that were being described
as far as the BBC getting more involved on the practical side
of things, would this be attractive to you or have you got a problem
with Scottish television rather than the BBC? Also the other thing
is to what extent you are all three moulded together as well as
separate. To what extent do you help one another when you are
Mr Munro: I think it is important to state up
front that a lot of the problems that Scotland are currently facing
are of our own making. Point number one. Point number two, yes,
we do have a problem. We have a fantastic deal with the BBC on
Six Nations coverage which is fantastic. We do have a problem
with BBC Scotland because rugby is just not on the horizon. No
sport other than Rangers and Celtic is on the horizon and, yes,
it is very important that the three of us, the Six Nations, act
together because we are all in it for the same thing, to promote
the game in our own countries, and obviously a large part of that
is what we have to sell, and obviously the more that we can sell
the better that we can all promote the game within our own countries.
So it is very important that we have the sort of alliances that
we do, yes.
Chairman: Okay, thank you very much indeed.
It has been a very fascinating session for us. I think we have
learnt quite a bit as well, which is not always our reaction to
witnesses coming. Thank you very very much and perhaps if we have
got any other questions we could put them to you. Thank you very
much for coming this morning.