Paralympics: Added to the UK ‘Crown Jewels’ Sports Events Broadcast List

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

With only a week to go before the UK leaves the European Union (EU), the UK Government announced on 24 January 2020 that the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games have been added permanently to the so-called ‘Crown Jewels’ List of major sporting events that must be broadcast on free-to-air television in the UK.

Under the EU ‘Television Without Frontiers’ Directive, para. 1 provides as follows:

1. Each Member State may take measures in accordance with Community law to ensure that broadcasters under its jurisdiction do not broadcast on an exclusive basis events which are regarded by that Member State as being of major importance for society in such a way as to deprive a substantial proportion of the public in that Member State of the possibility of following such events via live coverage or deferred coverage on free television. If it does so, the Member State concerned shall draw up a list of designated events, national or non-national, which it considers to be of major importance for society. It shall do so in a clear and transparent manner in due and effective time. In so doing the Member State concerned shall also determine whether these events should be available via whole or partial live coverage, or where necessary or appropriate for objective reasons in the public interest, whole or partial deferred coverage.”

This is the first change in twenty years to the UK List, which was first created in 1991.

During the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games, 31.6 million people in the UK watched at least 15 consecutive minutes of the TV coverage.

In announcing this change, the UK Sports Minister, Nigel Adams, stated:

“The Paralympic Games is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, as the country comes together to support our world-class Paralympic athletes.”

And added:

“So it is only right that the event is available on free-to-air television for all to enjoy. Adding the Games to the crown jewels list of major sporting events guarantees it the platform that it deserves every four years that will help inspire the sporting stars of the future.”

Already on the List, amongst other major sporting events, are the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup Finals, and the FA Cup Final.

It is also reported that, in view of their increasing popularity amongst sports fans generally, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is expected to announce whether the women’s equivalents of the men’s events already on the List will also be added.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’