• Nicky Morgan sets rights holders a women’s sports FTA goal
  • UK Culture Sec wants to boost coverage of women’s sporting events
  • She also challenged regulator Ofcom to “think big” in PSBs review during RTS speech

Nicky Morgan at RTS

RTS Cambridge Convention: Nicky Morgan speaks on women’s sporting  

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has called for the biggest events in women’s sport to become ‘listed events’ on free-to-air TV in the UK so that mass audiences can watch them. 

Speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention, Morgan said she has written to TV rights holders to advocate adding major women’s sporting events to the ‘listed events’ list bringing parity with the men’s events on the list.

The UK currently legislates that a list of sporting events of national interest, such as the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup Finals, the FA Cup Final, and the Grand National horse race, must be made available to free-to-air broadcasters on a fair and reasonable basis.

The aim of the legislation is to ensure the “crown jewels” of sport can be watched by viewers who don’t want to or can’t afford to subscribe to pay-TV services.

Morgan said: “A record-breaking 28.1 million people tuned into the Women’s World Cup. I want to build on this momentum and make sure future generations of female sporting talent can be inspired by who they see on their screens.

“So today I can announce that I have written to the relevant rights holders to seek their views about adding women’s sporting events to the listed events regime.

“So, where a men’s event is listed, the women’s equivalent would be too. This would be an important step in giving female sporting talent the coverage they deserve and putting men’s and women’s sport on an equal footing at last.”

Morgan also called on public service and commercial broadcasters to do more to secure their future by working together at a time of disruption from international rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.

She challenged regulator Ofcom to “think big” in its upcoming review of public service broadcasting, saying that ambitious regulatory reform could be needed to reflect a changing sector.

She said: “New ways of producing and consuming content are emerging faster than ever before and people are watching what they want, when they want. No one can deny the benefits of an explosion of choice and a competitive market.

“But British broadcasters are central pillars of our public life and their benefits are too great for them to be cast off as a victim of this revolution. We need to make sure that regulations - many of which were developed in the analogue age - are fit for the digital age and the new ways that people watch and produce shows.

“I want Ofcom’s upcoming review to help us consider how regulation can ensure our much-loved public service broadcasters can continue to be the beating heart of our television landscape for years to come.”