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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Satellite Broadcaster Seeks Rights to Key Events

LONDON -- Satellite broadcaster BSkyB, under fire over its tightening grip on British television sports rights, has hit back with a call to scrap legislation which aims to keep major events on terrestrial channels.

David Elstein, BSkyB head of programming, said Wednesday the list of eight protected events including the Olympics, soccer's World Cup and Wimbledon tennis finals was "an anachronism."

The opposition Labour Party had said it planned to introduce an amendment to the government's new Broadcasting Bill to strengthen the protection given to listed events.

Labour plans to make them specifically off-limits to subscription channels such as those operated by BSkyB rather than just unavailable to pay-per-view stations as is the case under current legislation, said spokesman Jack Cunningham this week.

Labour has indicated it may try to add rugby union's Five Nations championship and golf's Ryder Cup to the list.

BSkyB, which owns exclusive live rights to English Premier League soccer, overseas England cricket tours and a number of boxing world title bouts, shows the Ryder Cup and is reported to have its sights fixed on wresting the Five Nations tournament from the BBC.

"Let me repeat that listed events have only marginal significance to Sky's business," said Elstein.

"But the list matters enormously to the sports concerned, and it matters in terms of an important principle -- the freedom to dispose of legitimate rights as the owners see fit."