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BBC and ITV will share Six Nations

Published 09/07/2015

Clive Efford claims it would be a 'huge mistake' for the Six Nations to be limited to pay TV.
Clive Efford claims it would be a 'huge mistake' for the Six Nations to be limited to pay TV.

Six Nations rugby will remain on terrestrial television after the BBC and ITV teamed up to share the rights.

The broadcasters will split coverage of the tournament from 2016 to 2021 with ITV showing live coverage of England, Ireland and Italy home matches and the BBC screening the home games of Scotland, Wales and France.

The announcement by the RBS 6 Nations sees the BBC hang on to at least part of the rights that it had feared it would lose to Sky.

It will be the first time the Six Nations will be shown on ITV and the agreement also extends BBC Sport's current contract, allowing fans to continue to access the tournament via radio and online platforms.

The broadcaster that does not screen the last match of a Six Nations weekend will transmit a Sunday highlights show.

Bill Beaumont, Six Nations council chairman said: "Both the BBC and ITV are committed partners of rugby, ITV with their coverage of the Rugby World Cup and the BBC with their long history of covering the RBS 6 Nations.

"We are excited to be working with them both to continue to develop the interest in the championship and to ultimately grow this wonderful game for future generations to enjoy, either as a spectator, player or volunteer."

The deal is believed to be worth around £50million a year compared to the current £40million annual contract.

The announcement was welcomed by the BBC's director of sport Barbara Slater who said: "It's great news for fans of the Six Nations that the championship will be staying on free to air television. It's a very special competition and our viewing figures from this year prove just how popular it is with audiences. "

Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, added: "As ITV prepares to bring viewers exclusive, free-to-air live coverage of the Rugby World Cup later this year, we're delighted to be strengthening our ties with the game by bringing audiences the first class, live action and unique atmosphere of the RBS 6 Nations from next year."

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