Parliamentarians to mull Cricket World Cup free-to-air mandate in UK

UK parliamentarians are reportedly to review the possibility of making the Cricket World Cup free-to-air in the country following the England team’s victory in this year’s competition.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary committee will consider the question in the autumn in an evidence session with England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves, according to the Times newspaper.

The report quotes the committee chairman, Damian Collins as saying: “We will explore the importance of free-to-air television in terms of driving forward the game and whether the Cricket World Cup, or even just the final, should be a Listed Event in the same way as the football and rugby World Cups.”

The final of the Cricket World Cup gained a peak viewing audience of 4.47 million on free-to-air commercial broadcaster Channel 4 following its partnership deal with pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports for the final.

Rights-holder Sky showed the final on its basic-tier Sky One channel as well as its premium Main Event and Cricket channels. Nearly 4 million viewers watched across these three Sky channels.

The UK’s opposition Labour party said last month it would look to expand the Listed Events to include more women’s sport and the Paralympic Games if it came to power.

Current legislation stipulates events such as the Olympic Games, men’s Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon tennis championships and football’s FA Cup final must be broadcast on linear channels that are available to 95 per cent of the population.