LONDON (Reuters) – Some English football could be shown on free-to-air broadcasters when it returns after pausing due to coronavirus, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday.

Dowden said current broadcasting rights-holders had to be respected but that there was flexibility because rules banning broadcasters from showing Saturday afternoon kick-offs so that they did not compete with fans going to the stadium would not apply.

“I think that creates an opportunity for us to be able to get some sport, some Premier League, free-to-air,” Dowden told reporters.

Sky, which is owned by Comcast and BT own the majority of rights to broadcast the English Premier League, with Amazon also holding some rights. Sky also has rights to English Football League (EFL) games, while the Scottish Premiership has voted to end its season.

“Those discussions are ongoing … with the Premier League, the EFL and the FA (England’s Football Association). I hope we can sort this out,” Dowden said.

(Reporting by William James, Andy Bruce and Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison)

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