A review into which Irish sporting events are guaranteed broadcasting on free to air TV must be completed, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Alan Dillon, former Mayo Gaelic footballer who was elected to the Dáil in 2020, said the review – which began in November 2020 – is well overdue.
In light of the GAAGO controversy where high profile championship hurling games were put behind an online paywall, Deputy Dillon said such fixtures, given due consideration by all stakeholders, have to be added to a list which ensures, as per EU regulations, they are designated to be of major importance to society and are available on free to air television.
“GAA fans across the country lost out since the start of the month. This cannot be repeated.
“We are in year one of a five year GAAGO deal which the GAA have already committed to reviewing at the end of this year. This is welcome but it is clear now that certain sporting events need protection so all can see them,” Deputy Dillon said.
“A review was instigated by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin more than two and a half years ago. This should be completed now – it is well past time,” Deputy Dillon added.
The current free to air list includes: the summer Olympic Games, the All-Ireland senior football, hurling and camogie finals and ladies senior football final, Ireland’s men’s games in the Rugby World Cup, Republic of Ireland’s games (including qualifiers) in the UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup, as well as the opening games, semi-finals and final of the same tournaments. the Irish Grand National and Irish Derby, and the Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show.
“This list has been reviewed three times since 2003 and we are still waiting on the latest review. It was decided to pause the review to allow a full sporting year post Covid to take place.
“The World Health Organisation this week said Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency. Yet, we still await the outcome of a review that should have been done well before now. Let’s get on with it and protect major sporting events for TV viewers on a free to air basis,” Deputy Dillon added.