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Dublin: 2°C Friday 26 February 2021
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Government announces review of Irish sports events protected for free-to-air broadcast

Members of the public are invited to suggest events to be added or taken from the list.

The free-to-air list is set to be reviewed.
The free-to-air list is set to be reviewed.
Image: Cathal Noonan

SPORTS MINISTER CATHERINE Martin has announced a review of the list of sporting events protected for free-to-air broadcast, and has invited submissions from the public as to which events should be added or taken from the list. 

All EU countries maintain a list of sporting events that cannot be solely broadcast behind a paywall, and the list is reviewed every three years. 

To be included, events must meet at least two of four criteria: they must have a ” general resonance” among the wider public and not just restricted to sports fans, have a distinct cultural importance, involve the national team in a competition of international significance, and have traditionally been broadcast on free-to-air television. 

It must also meet a minimum TV audience share of 5%, a standard set by the EU. 

The list was last reviewed in 2017, when the All-Ireland Ladies Football and Camogie finals were added. 

The current list of events protected for live free-to-air broadcast reads: 

  • All Ireland Senior Ladies Football Final 
  • All Ireland Senior Camogie Final 
  • Summer Olympics 
  • All-Ireland Senior Inter-County Football and Hurling Finals 
  • Ireland’s home and away qualifying games in the European Football Championship and the FIFA World Cup Tournaments 
  • Ireland’s games in the European Football Championship Finals Tournament and the Fifa World Cup Finals Tournament 
  • the opening games, the semi-finals and final of the European Football Championship Finals and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament 
  • Ireland’s games in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament
  • the Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby 
  • the Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show

Live coverage of Ireland’s games in the Six Nations rugby championship are not protected under the list, with only deferred coverage necessary. 

The live broadcast of these games was considered for inclusion in 2017, but the issue was kicked down the road as a TV deal between the IRFU and Virgin Media already in place guaranteed Ireland’s games would be free to air until 2021. 

The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show, meanwhile, may be at risk of losing its place on the list, as its TV audience share dipped below the 5% threshold between 2010 and 2015. 

Those who wish to join the consultation process can find all the relevant details on the Department’s website here. 

The closing date for receipt of observations is 14 January 2021.

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Gavin Cooney

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