Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has called for the biggest events in the women’s sporting calendar to be given equal screen time to their male counterparts.

Ms Morgan urged broadcasters to make competitions such as the Football World Cup listed events on free-to-air TV to ensure “future generations of female sporting talent can be inspired”.

It would mean that when a men’s sporting event is listed, the women’s equivalent would be too.

England v Sweden – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 – Third Place Play-Off – Stade de Nice
England’s Steph Houghton at the end of the Fifa Women’s World Cup Third Place Play-Off (Richard Sellers/PA)

Speaking at the Royal Television Society’s conference in Cambridge, Ms Morgan said she had written to TV rights holders urging them to push for such events to be added to the the so-called “crown jewels” list.

Ms Morgan also confirmed that the Government was consulting on adding The Paralympic Games to the listed regime.

The address was her first major speech as Culture Secretary since she took over from Jeremy Wright in July following Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister.

She said: “A record-breaking 28.1 million people tuned into the Women’s World Cup. I want to build on this momentum and make sure future generations of female sporting talent can be inspired by who they see on their screens.

“So today I can announce that I have written to the relevant rights holders to seek their views about adding women’s sporting events to the listed events regime.

“So where a men’s event is listed, the women’s equivalent would be too. This would be an important step in giving female sporting talent the coverage they deserve and putting men’s and women’s sport on an equal footing at last.”

England women finished fourth at the football World Cup this summer, and their semi-final defeat to the United States had a peak television audience of 11.7 million, the highest of 2019 on British television, and an average of 10.3 million.

Closing the first day of the event, Ms Morgan urged the UK’s broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky, to band together to combat international streaming giants such as Netflix.

Sharon White comments
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White (Ofcom/PA)

She also encouraged regulator Ofcom, whose chief executive Sharon White spoke earlier in the day, to “think big” in its upcoming review of public service broadcasting.

She said: “New ways of producing and consuming content are emerging faster than ever before and people are watching what they want, when they want. No one can deny the benefits of an explosion of choice and a competitive market.”

She said broadcasters were the “central pillars of our public life” and that regulations must be updated to be “fit for the digital age and the new ways that people watch and produce shows”.

However, she warned that channels must be “as fleet-footed and as adaptable to change as their international rivals”.

Last week Ms Morgan, who backed the Remain campaign in 2016, said she would vote to remain in the European Union if given the chance in a second referendum.

She said she would vote to stay in the EU “for the same reasons that I felt very firmly back in 2016 and I campaigned for Remain” – which she said were both economic and geopolitical.

Asked by host Susanna Reid, she also admitted that she would “love” to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, but that there were many politicians who should appear on the BBC One show before does.