BBC ups its bid for Rugby Union

The BBC has re-opened negotiations with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and increased its bid for the television rights to England’s autumn rugby internationals.

Talks had been suspended because of the uncertainty surrounding governance of the game. But the issue has now been resolved, following a meeting between grass-roots and professional clubs at the end of last month.

BBC director of sport Peter Salmon is understood to have made an increased bid, after outlining his strategy to the BBC board of governors last week.

The strategy involves concentrating resources on a small number of core sports and sporting events, including athletics, football and snooker.

However, in its quest for the rights to the autumn internationals, the BBC can expect tough competition from BSkyB, which is likely to table an increased offer towards the end of the week.

It is likely that the end result will involve the package being split.

The three-year package, worth between &£150m and &£200m, includes autumn internationals against southern hemisphere giants such as Australia and South Africa, plus Premiership rugby, The Middlesex Sevens and the varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge. The rights do not extend to the Six Nations Championship.

A BBC source says: “At the moment it is thought that football is over-priced and over-exposed.

“It [the BBC] realises it needs a change of direction and needs to take action – especially after losing out on the Premier League highlights to ITV.”

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