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TV channels able to show listed events to be reviewed

The World Cup can only be shown on certain TV channels

A greater number of TV channels could be allowed to screen listed sporting events, as Ofcom undertakes a review of qualifying channels.

The list, last reviewed in 2008, currently restricts the carriage of listed events to the main five channels. But changes in the way viewers access and consume TV in the past decade has prompted Ofcom to review which channels qualify.

Listed events include the Olympics, FIFA Men's World Cup, The Grand National, FA Cup Final and Wimbledon Tennis Finals.

Ofcom has been tasked to maintain a list of channels that can be received free-to-air in one form or another to at least 95% of the UK. To ascertain if a channel can reach 95% of the UK, the regulator says it wants to factor in IPTV coverage, as well as coverage from Freeview transmitters, satellite and cable networks.

As a result, Ofcom has indicated it expects to expand the list of qualifying channels from BBC One, BBC Two, ITV/STV/UTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to include BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, More4, E4 and Film4 - effectively all channels that currently enjoy over 95% coverage thanks to the completion of digital switchover in the decade since the last review. 

Other free-to-air channels currently fail to reach the 95% threshold, because they broadcast on a Freeview multiplex that reaches 90% or less of the UK and are unable to reach the threshold through satellite, cable and IPTV distribution and because of insufficient penetration of receiving devices for other platforms in viewers home.

Ofcom says it considers that a service is only “received” on a given platform if (1) a person can receive the signal or data by which the platform transmits services to their home, and (2) they have the necessary equipment to decode the signal or data and view services on that platform in their home.

Final confirmation of the new list of channels is still pending, but could change considerably in future years are more viewers switch to internet-based TV, especially in areas where full Freeview coverage is not possible. Not every channel on the list is likely to provide a suitable platform for live sport.

Although HD TV is now available in the majority of UK homes, the lack of a free-to-air HD outlet will not disqualify channels such as ITV4, as a basic SD version of the channel reaches over 95% of UK households. +1 channels are also excluded.

Ofcom is now consulting over its methodology and plans; the consultation document is now available on its website until 18th January 2019.

Ofcom does not have control over which events are listed, nor over the requirement that channels need to be free-to-air and widely available, as these are determined by the Government.









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