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BBC & ITV share Six Nations rights to thwart Sky

Britain’s two biggest terrestrial broadcasters, the BBC and ITV, have agreed to pool broadcast rights for the Six Nations from 2016 in a bid to counter the growing financial clout of Sky.

The six year deal will see Wales, Scotland and France home matches aired on the BBC whilst ITV will screen England, Ireland and Italy home games – with BBC Radio 5 live broadcasting live commentary for all matches.

Sky had been invited to bid for the rights for the first time but by joining forces the BBC and ITV have ensured that tournament will remain on free to air television for the foreseeable future.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, the director of BBC Wales commented: “We are relieved and delighted that the Six Nations remains free to air. The tournament provides not just sporting moments for Wales but contributes to our heritage and culture and it was essential that it remained accessible to all, not just those with the means to pay a subscription fee.

“It made sense for us and ITV to start the deal next season and take it through six years. It gives us breathing space and what we have to look at now, especially in Wales, is whether the Six Nations should be given protected status.”

The new Six Nations deal will generate an additional £10m for the sport, plus a further £20m after the BBC agreed to allow the new deal to commence in 2016 rather than await the end of its current deal in 2018.