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Saturday 27 February 2021

GAA chief warns against motions restricting broadcast deals to free-to-air TV

Paraic Duffy believes such a move would lead to ‘a greatly reduced media rights income’.

THE ISSUE OF broadcasting GAA games on subscription TV stations remains a thorny one and it’s bound to be a hot topic in 2016 as it is the final year of the current media rights deal.

But today the Director-General Paraic Duffy warned against restricting any future broadcast deal to free-to-air TV.

General view of a Sky Sports microphone Sky Sports first televised game took place in June 2014. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Currently the games are shared between RTÉ and Sky Sports with talks on new contracts to begin over the next few months.

Next month’s GAA Congress will see a motion from Kerry on the agenda which seeks an end to the controversial deal with Sky Sports.

Duffy believes adopting such a stance will diminish the GAA’s negotiating power but insists there will be no reduction in the number of games on free-to-air TV.

“In 2015, 114 games were shown live, or on full deferred coverage on terrestrial TV. This policy will remain central to the next set of rights agreements – there will be no reduction in the number of live senior championship games shown free-to-air.

Paraic Duffy GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“However, any restriction that prohibits the GAA from engaging with all interested parties, including subscription TV providers, would seriously reduce our negotiating power and thus our ability to achieve the true worth of our assets, and would inevitably
lead to a greatly reduced media-rights income.

“In what is already a small pool of potential broadcast partners, we must ensure the existence of a genuine market for our games and maintain the option of engaging with all interested parties, regardless of whether they are free-to-air or subscription providers.

“This flexibility and freedom is crucial if we are to nurture a competitive tender process and thus ensure that the GAA achieves the proper value for its rights.

“Ultimately these broadcast revenues represent an important funding source for the work of the association and its units.”

Do you agree? Should GAA games be restricted to free-to-air TV? Let us know in the comments section below.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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