Can Legal Challenge be brought against the UK’s decision to list specific events under the Broadcasting Act?

Listed Events under the Broadcasting Act 1996

The Broadcasting Act 1996 provides the Secretary of State with the power to designate certain key sporting and other events as so called listed events.

Certain events are able to be listed under the Broadcasting Act 1996 if they are deemed to be of major importance to society.

In what respects will an event be deemed to be of major importance to society?

A sporting event will be deemed to be of major importance to society according to the following factors:

  • It should contain an element which serves to unite the nation

  • It should be a shared point on the national calendar

  • It should not solely be of interest to those who follow the sport

What is the purpose of the legislation?

Following an event being listed it must be shown on terrestrial television – i.e. television which is able to be accessed by everyone in the country without having to pay a subscription fee.

Many feel that certain sporting events have the ability to not only unite the nation but also to encourage people to participate in sport. With many countries throughout the world suffering with problems of obesity it is felt that making people aware of sporting contests and making them proud of the athletes involved in these contests will inspire them to take part in sport themselves.

Why would there be a legal challenge against any listing of events?

For the above reasons there seems to be many benefits of listing events so it is difficult to see where a potential legal challenge may come from. However, if you look at the point of view of the sports themselves you can see where a potential challenge may come from.

The World Cup

The World Cup is the premier tournament in world football. Happening every four years it is a footballing institution and often unites the citizens of England if the team is successful. Think of the money generated by pubs when able to show the games live – England qualifying and doing well in the World Cup means so much more for the economy and is an extremely lucrative tournament.

FIFA’s role in the World Cup

The World Cup is organised by the world governing body of football, FIFA, in conjunction with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the country holding the tournament. With the tournament being so popular it is extremely important to FIFA to maximize the potential revenues from the tournament through such things as ticket sales, merchandising etc.

Sale of Television Rights

The sale of the television rights is one of the best ways in which FIFA can generate revenues from the World Cup. The rights will not only be sold to the 32 countries participating in the tournament but also to virtually every country around the world.

However, if the UK lists the entire World Cup as a listed event this will greatly reduce the potential revenues to be earned.

Television Rights sold to terrestrial broadcasters rather than subscription broadcasters

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For more information on:

  • On what basis would FIFA bring their claim?
  • Matches not of major importance to society
  • Equivalent competitions not listed as protected events
  • What is the position in other countries?
  • If FIFA was to bring a claim would it be successful?