Broadcasting of Major Sporting Events: The Voluntary Code of Conduct for Rights Owners

While every sports governing body wants to maximise the audience for major events, they also recognise that sports broadcasting rights are one of their main sources of commercial revenue. 

Without a competitive marketplace for sports broadcasting rights, governing bodies and event organisers cannot secure the best financial return. This in turn, undermines investment in the long-term development of the sport. In this context, sports governing bodies are best placed to strike the right balance between audience and revenue.

The Voluntary Code of Conduct for Rights Owners outlines the ongoing commitment of the UK’s leading sports bodies to two general principles: 

Accessibility – Wherever possible, making all major events under their control available free-to-air (in live, recorded or highlights form);

Reinvestment – Putting a minimum of thirty per cent of their net UK broadcasting revenue back into the long-term development of their sport.

Download a copy of the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Rights Owners.

Voluntary Code of Conduct for Sports Rights Owners

Compliance with the Code is monitored by the Sports Broadcast Monitoring Committee, to which the Alliance acts as secretariat. The Committee has an independent chair and comprises a range of representatives from Code signatories alongside independent members with commercial, legal and broadcasting expertise. The full membership of the Committee is listed below:

Independent Chair 

  • Jon Zeff

Signatory Representatives

  • Robert Sullivan (The FA) 
  • David Mahoney (ECB)
  • William Bush (Premier League)

Independent Members 

  • Neil Austin
  • Karen Earl
  • Kate Gallafent QC
  • Ian Mill QC
  • Alex Russell

Additional Members

  • Lisa Wainwright (Sport and Recreation Alliance) 
  • Simon Morton (UK Sport)

Following the most recent compliance review, the signatories assessed as compliant with both the accessibility and reinvestment principles are:

  • England and Wales Cricket Board
  • Lawn Tennis Association/All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (joint)
  • Rugby Football League
  • Rugby Football Union
  • The Football Association
  • The R&A

The signatories assessed as compliant with the accessibility principle are:

  • European Tour
  • Premier League
  • UK Athletics

Examples of how some Code signatories have investing to support the long-term development of their respective sports include:

ECB: All Stars Cricket for children aged 5-11

LTA: Tennis coach education and training

RFL: Sky Try at the Magic Weekend & ‘A Day in the Life’ – Warrington Wolves Foundation

RFU: Natwest RugbyForce programme supporting grassroots clubs & Inner Warrior rugby camps for women

The FA: SSE Wildcats football for girls

The R&A: Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots junior-friendly clubs