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Incoming BBC chairman Sir David Clementi signals intent to win back sports broadcast rights

David Clementi

Incoming BBC chairman David Clementi has called for a review on the corporation’s approach to sports broadcasting rights after declaring certain sporting events such as golf’s Open Championship should never have moved to Sky.

The former deputy governor of the Bank of England was recently named as the first chairman of the BBC’s new unitary board and will take up the role when the BBC Trust, the current governing body, is abolished in April.

Speaking to members of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, Clementi said the debate over what constitutes a ‘crown jewel sports event’ – one which should be provided free to air – should be reopened.

During the discussions, Clementi cited the Open as an example of such an event which the BBC should have attained the broadcast rights to rather than allowing Sky to take over as the exclusive broadcaster.

He said he regretted the loss of “one of two national occasions” and called for the list of crown jewel sports to be reviewed.

“There were just a few I regard as national events and I would like to see free to air,” said Clementi.

The BBC has struggled to hold on to the broadcast rights for several sports over the last few years. In addition to losing the Open, the public broadcaster also saw Eurosport secure the exclusive pan-European rights to the Olympics and had to exit its deal with Formula One six years early as part of cost saving strategies.

Most recently, the BBC outbid by Channel 4 for the rights to the Women’s Euro 2017 tournament.

The list of crown jewel events is governed by legislation and a voluntary code set up in 2009, which was re-signed by sports bodies governing cricket, football, golf, tennis and rugby union and league last October.

It’s possible that the list could see changes when Clementi takes up his new role in April.

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