Government announces review of free-to-air Olympics

A government review later this year will decide whether the broadcasting rights to major events such as the Olympic Games should remain on free-to-air television.

The BBC has won the rights to screen the Games until 2020, but could see the occasion – along with others like the FA Cup final and World Cup – switch to pay-TV stations if officials decide such “listed events” do not need to be protected, reported independent.co.uk.

People in London broadcast jobs will not see any changes until after the digital switchover, which finishes this year, but culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the review will take place.

He said: “We are going to have a look at it. We postponed it until the digital switchover was completed this autumn. We thought that was the right thing to do because the broadcasting landscape is likely to change.”

The prospect of companies such as Sky being able to bid for listed events will no doubt ruffle some feathers, particularly given Mr Hunt’s previously demonstrated connections with BSkyB. However, the review was initially planned in 2010 before the the government official was connected with the media organisation.

According to sportinglife.com, which is owned by Sky, the International Olympic Committee has pressured Britain in the past to adopt a bidding system for coverage of the occasion, but the government had not shown signs of relenting.

by Paul Smithson on July 24, 2012

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