"The Open should be on free-to-air TV" say Lords

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The House of Lords is calling for the Open Championship to be broadcast on “free to air” channels in a bid to “unify to country”.

A report by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee has called for the world’s oldest professional golf tournament as well as the Ashes to be given the same ‘protected status’ as the Olympic Games, World Cup and Grand National. 

The Open has, since 2016, been broadcast exclusively live in the UK by Sky Sports, although the BBC has retained rights to show event highlights.

The report published by the committee says: “At a time of division, public service broadcasters play a role in unifying the country through shared experiences.

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“The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport should consult sporting bodies, broadcasters and the public with a view to increasing modestly the number of listed events.

“This could include events such as the Ashes and the Open Golf Championship.”

The committee further added that, instead of providing a public service, “too many events were on subscription channels only” and that these were “prohibitively expensive”.

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However, in a statement, Sky Sports - who, in July, signed a new deal to broadcast all four rounds of the Open exclusively live in the UK until at least 2024 - dismissed the peers’ concerns. 

“Investment from broadcasters like Sky has enabled British sports to thrive over the past 30 years, bringing the country together at key sporting moments,” said a company spokesperson.

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“If popular events, such as the Ashes and the Open, were further restricted to public service broadcasters, there would clearly be scheduling issues, making it likely that sports fans would not be able to watch as much sport as they can today, driving down viewing, participation and investment in British sports.

“This would be a bad outcome for fans and governing bodies alike.”

Your thoughts?

Do you think the Open should be broadcast by a free-to-air broadcaster? Or do you think companies like Sky Sports should be allowed to bid for the rights? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.

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