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Virgin Media comes under pressure to strike Rugby League World Cup deal

The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group of MPs has urged pay-television operator Virgin Media to agree a carriage deal with Premier Sports ahead of the pay-television broadcaster’s coverage of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Premier Sports is broadcasting all matches from the tournament, which is being hosted by England and Wales, but despite three years of talks, the channel still has not secured a carriage deal on the Virgin Media platform.

Parliamentary Group chairman Greg Mulholland has written to Virgin Media chief executive Tom Mockridge to call for a carriage deal to be struck in time for the tournament’s opening ceremony on October 26.

The letter makes note of the market Virgin Media enjoys in the north of England, rugby league’s heartland, and says that “rugby league is one of the UK’s biggest sports, and to not have its world championships available to as wide an audience as possible in the host nation is lamentable.”

Mulholland said: “This has been going on for too long.  There are calls on Virgin Media’s own online forums to show Premier Sports but it simply must be rectified before the World Cup starts.”