Thursday, 18 June 2009



Exclusive report from;

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan will today call for a higher number of Scotland international football games to be reserved for free to air television.

Mr McMillan’s comments come as the review of events reserved for free to air television comes to the Scottish Parliament.

It also comes as the problems faced by Setanta raise concern over the stability of TV deals.
Mr McMillan and his colleague Keith Brown have repeatedly raised the issue with the UK Department for Culture and Mr McMillan has now written to the review.

Research for the Scottish Broadcasting Commission showed a majority of Scots support Scotland’s international football matches being available on free to air television.

Speaking ahead of the visit by the Review to Holyrood Mr McMillan said;
“For too many Scotland fans the option of watching the match at home with their family or friends is one they cannot afford.

“It is ridiculous that for many people the only way to watch Scotland’s international games is to go to the pub – often leaving our young footballers of the future unable to see the match and putting pressure on parents already stretched budgets to sign up to satellite or cable stations.

“There is overwhelming public support for bringing Scotland games, particularly our home games in the European Championships and World Cup to Scotland’s television screens.

“Last year’s study into Scottish broadcasting showed not only that 96% of football fans want coverage on free to air television, but 70% of those not interested in football believe there should be public access to the Scotland teams international adventures.

“As Scottish football considers the impact of Setanta’s cash crisis the importance of stability for our game and for its future is clear for all to see.

“This review is a prime opportunity to press that case and I urge every member of the Tartan Army to take up the case and argue for Scotland’s international matches to be available to all Scots on free to air television.”

1. Public Attitudes to Broadcasting in Scotland (2008) asked the public if it supported coverage of Scotland’s national football team on free terrestrial television – 96% of those interested in football agreed and 70% of those who were not interested agreed that these football matches should be on terrestrial television

2. Mr McMillan’s letter to the Review is below
I write to you in connection with the current Free-to-air listed events consultation.
I have, for sometime, been advocating that more sporting and cultural events be taken out of the private broadcasting streams and put on terrestrial, free-to-air television. It’s vital that the greatest amounts of people are able to see sporting and cultural events.

Before becoming elected I submitted a public petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for BBC Scotland to provide coverage of all Scotland national team matches. I said then and still feel now that it is appalling that Scotland’s national broadcaster does not have the rights to show every Scotland national game.

I feel it is important that international competitive football matches for the home nations are shown on terrestrial television. At the moment there is a monopoly on Scottish international football matches between BSKYB and the currently struggling Setanta. This situation means that many members of the public cannot watch their country compete on the national stage, unless they go to a pub. I believe this is wrong as many members of the public will have no desire to enter a pub to watch sporting events. The current set-up affecting the broadcast of Scotland football matches is depriving ordinary members of the public the opportunity to cheer on their nation as they try to qualify for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

As you will be aware, Setanta are currently struggling to survive and in this current financial climate it is imperative that stability is provided to fans and football clubs in Scotland.

I would urge the consultation to consider adding Scotland’s competitive international football matches to the list of ‘crown jewels’.

Yours sincerely
Picture (Metafile)
Stuart McMillan MSP

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