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Lord Howell: My Lords, I am most grateful to all the speakers who have taken part in our reasonably brief but fascinating debate and for the spirit in which they have done so. I shall be brief and comment on just one or two points that were made. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, wondered whether the principles were necessary here, having previously told us that he supported the same principles in the Division Lobby regarding the listed events for which I expressed my appreciation. But we are now dealing with the very same principle; indeed, it is the very same principle that I am asking the House to accept and extend to major sports not included in the listed events. I repeat what my noble friend Lord Donoughue said; we may have to look again at the listed events. I believe that that is what the country would want us to do.

The noble Earl, Lord Newall, told us that it would be difficult to agree a price for such matters if highlights were to be negotiated. Why would it be so difficult? There has been no difficulty in negotiating the price of World Cup cricket: it was £1 million and both sides agreed that that was a reasonable price. Indeed, that has happened where other highlights have been shown. There is no difficulty in agreeing a price when reasonable people want the highlights to be shown. All the mechanisms of supply and demand apply.

I am most grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Harrowby, for the point that he made. Indeed, he raised matters which the House will know concern me regarding the social responsibilities of sport. However, I shall not repeat that argument, except to say that I have raised the

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matter several times in Committee and on Second Reading and in private correspondence to some of the major sports bodies. I have asked the latter how they intend to discharge their social responsibilities regarding the elderly and others who do not have Sky or cable television because they cannot afford it--£300 to install and a yearly charge just to look at sport. I have also asked them, "How do you intend to discharge your responsibilities to the youth of the country?". If millions of homes are deprived of seeing any sporting excellence, that might undermine the future of British sport. The noble Earl was right to raise the matter again, because we have received no response whatever from those sporting bodies as to how they intend to meet that situation. If they cannot tell us how they intend to discharge their social responsibilities to the nation, they can have no complaint if this House decides that we must do something about it. Those responsibilities remain.

The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, told us that we could have highlights concentrated in the evening and that that would be most valuable. I am inclined to agree with him--

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: Get on with it!

Lord Howell: My Lords, I can tell the noble and learned Lord that I am getting on with it. I am sorry that he feels a little exhausted, but that is because he does not like sport; indeed, he likes to see legal matters, which is hardly the sort of sporting contest that the rest of us enjoy.

I should tell the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, that it is because there is no commitment at present to show highlights that we have this problem. If the commitment was there by subscription and terrestrial TV--and I believe the Government hope that that will be the case, especially if the voluntary code of conduct of the Sports Council comes into being--that would deal satisfactorily with the matter.

As always, the Minister has dealt with the matter most kindly and gently. I believe that, like us, he is trying to reach some sort of agreement, or consensus--if the latter word is more appropriate. The reason for the issue of highlights not arising in his consultation process is that no one has been talking about them. The whole public argument on television, in press reports and elsewhere has been about listed events. Had we gone into the subject of highlights at an earlier stage I can assure the Minister that his postbag would have reflected the situation; indeed, that would be the case were we to do so now.

I am disappointed that the Minister has not responded to the point that I made about the ruling of the European Court. I regard that as being extremely important. As I said earlier, if the European Court has decided that highlights must be sold separately under European competition policy, that is an important consideration. However, I do not ask the Minister to comment now on that aspect because the course of action that I am about to ask the House to follow will enable him to give more consideration to it just as I intend to do. Indeed, the point was only brought to my attention this morning.

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If it is right that the European Court's decision now means that, according to case law, it will now be unlawful not to "unbundle" highlights from the main contract, then obviously that would render my amendment unnecessary. I also have regard to the fact that the Sports Council is trying to negotiate a voluntary code of conduct. I am prepared to give that a fair wind. I hope that the council will be able to do so and that it will be able to tell us how it has got on by the time we reach Third Reading. If the council makes progress and if all the sports bodies and the terrestrial and subscription channels of television find it possible to agree to a code of conduct as a voluntary matter, I am sure that that would be a great relief to all of us. It would unite both the Minister and myself and obviate the necessity to proceed much further.

It is because I want to bring that agreement about and ensure that in future we do not have another case like the Ryder Cup, where a great event was screened but denied to the majority of the public, that I believe the amendment should be withdrawn now in the knowledge that, when we have all reflected further on the matters which have arisen, we can return to the issue on Third Reading. That being the case, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Howell moved Amendment No.2:


After Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Holding of licences: restrictions on involvement in administration of sport

(".--(1) Sections 5 and 88 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 are each amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1)(a), after "who" insert--
("(i) is involved, or any of whose employees, agents or representatives is involved, in the government or administration of any sport in respect of which he is the holder of any exclusive broadcasting right, or
(ii)".
(3) At the end there is inserted--
"(8) In this section "exclusive broadcasting right" means any contract or agreement providing for the exclusive right to include in a broadcasting service any programme which consists of or includes the whole or any part of a sporting event, or of a recording of that event.".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I call this the "conflict-of-interest amendment". That ought rightly to be prevented, but many of us have a suspicion that it may be necessary to do so by legislation. It seems increasingly clear that in certain sports people are speaking both for the sport and for the television company in discussions which they are holding with each other. I shall not spend much time on the matter, but I should like to point out that when we negotiate such important contracts, which involve large sums of money and the rights of television companies, it is absolutely vital that there should be a clear distinction between the executives of the television companies and the governing bodies of sport. Therefore, the amendment has been tabled to express that opinion and

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to seek the Government's views as to whether they think that that is a danger for which Parliament ought to legislate. I beg to move.

Viscount Astor: My Lords, I read the amendment with great care. I have to tell the noble Lord that, while one has a certain sympathy for much of what he said as regards his earlier amendment and indeed the one that he moved on the last occasion when we debated the matter, the current amendment would seem to have a rather dangerous effect. When the noble Lord replies to the Minister's response, I wonder whether he could answer a few questions. First, why should those who have a stake in a sport not be allowed to have a stake in its broadcasting? There seems to be no reason why they should be excluded.

I shall give a couple of examples. The noble Lord's amendment would affect the Racecourse Association which owns a share of SIS which is the service which is transmitted to betting shops and also, via cable or satellite, into people's homes. Under the noble Lord's amendment such services would be excluded because they would be classed as shareholders in a broadcaster, and as sporting bodies. Further, a sport which is currently unable to find an outlet on television might, in order to try to encourage interest in the sport, commission its own programmes and then transmit them on a cable channel, whether that be in London or in the noble Lord's home town of Birmingham. It might do that for the sound reason of encouraging interest in that sport.

I believe that the noble Lord's amendment would stop any of those things happening and that must have a bad and restrictive effect on sport and sports' ability to be broadcast. All noble Lords know that the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, is a keen racing aficionado. I hope that he will consider the impact of this measure on racing. I believe that the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, could be damaging to certain sports' bodies.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for explaining that this amendment is intended to avoid possible conflicts of interests for those involved in negotiations between sports rights holders and broadcasting bodies. I am sure we would all agree with the sentiment underlying the first of these amendments. Conflicts of interest for those involved in negotiations between sports right holders and broadcasting bodies are clearly wrong. However, the Government are not persuaded of the case for legislation to deal with a matter that is best dealt with under the criminal law which has a full range of sanctions at its disposal.

Legislative provision along the lines of the amendment would also have damaging effects of the kind alluded to by my noble friend Lord Astor. It would prevent the development of new television services by sports bodies, using digital broadcasting techniques--that idea is being seriously considered by a number of sports--which in turn would damage digital television

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and digital audio broadcasting. We do not believe this could possibly be in the public interest. For that reason the Government do not support this amendment.


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