GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy, left, with Sky Ireland's managing director JD Buckley in Croke Park yesterday. Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Sky sports

RTÉ responds as GAA blasts its 'shocking' coverage of Sky Sports deal

“If there was anything negative they could throw at us, they did,” GAA President Liam O’Neill said today.

THE GAA’S HISTORIC Sky Sports deal has spilled over into a war of words with RTÉ.

GAA President Liam O’Neill blasted coverage of the new media rights agreement as “shocking” and “imbalanced.”

But RTÉ hit back and said they are satisfied that they handled the story in a “balanced and fair” manner on all platforms.

O’Neill and Director-General Paraic Duffy were grilled on yesterday’s announcement that Sky will have live and exclusive coverage of 14 Championship matches on their subscription channels for the next three years.

O’Neill was interviewed by Bryan Dobson on Six One News while Duffy spoke to David McCullagh on Prime Time, with Miriam O’Callaghan hosting a panel discussion which included former GAA President Nickey Brennan and Eugene McGee.

O’Neill said: “Tuesday night’s performance by RTÉ was shocking. The imbalance was shocking.

In fairness to them if there was anything negative they could throw at us, they did.

Liam O'Neill Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Today’s rows hints at the friction between the GAA and its principal rights partner.

RTÉ have retained the main TV package with exclusive coverage of 31 games for another three years, and have also committed to a new digital partnership which will make more live coverage available overseas.

“As the national public service media organisation, RTÉ is statutorily obliged to be fair, impartial and balanced,” the broadcaster said in a statement this evening.

RTÉ is satisfied that its coverage on the GAA’s media rights announcement was balanced and fair across all platforms and gave ample opportunity to all sides to air their views.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Six One David Nally, RTÉ’s managing editor of current affairs, said he was very surprised by O’Neill’s comments.

“We’re very satisfied that the coverage of this issue yesterday on RTE was fair and impartial and that the GAA got a very fair shake.

“If you take Prime Time for instance, I think nine people spoke in studio on this subject and I think five of them spoke in favour of the GAA on the Sky deal, three against and one was neutral. How that can be singled out as an example of a programme that was biased against the GAA, I find that hard to understand.”


Nally also defended McCullagh who came in for some criticism for the robust manner in which he conducted his interview with Duffy.

“It’s the job of an RTÉ current affairs presenter when they’re interviewing someone one-on-one to ask hard questions, the questions that the audience would like asked, and that’s an opportunity for the interviewee to answer those questions and get their message across to the audience.

“That should not be misunderstood as some kind of bias against the person who is being interviewed and I think the viewers at home understand that.”

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