Gareth Davies, chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, has urged UK public-service broadcaster the BBC to retain rights to the Six Nations national rugby union team tournament in order to stop coverage switching to UK pay-television channels.
Davies told BBC Radio Cymru that discussions have already begun over a new rights deal to replace the current agreement, which is due to expire in 2017.
Last month, Six Nations chief executive John Feehan said that the championship may consider offers from UK pay-television broadcasters, given how critical the revenue generated by the tournament is to the ‘home unions’.
However, Davies has said that a switch to pay-television channels would be “dangerous” for the tournament and has called on the BBC to increase its bids for the rights to ensure the Six Nations remains on free-to-air channels.
“It's early days at the moment in terms of the discussions, the discussions have started,” Davies said. “I was in the meeting last week and every country around the table, felt, in unison, that the championship should proceed on free-to-air. Having said that, everyone's asking questions of the rugby officials. I'd throw the question back at the BBC; how keen is it to keep the competition? I'd expect an increase, and it would have to be a substantial increase.”
The BBC declined to comment on the negotiations.