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10/08/2010

'Free To Air Sports' Face Gov Review

The Republic of Ireland's Minister for Communications has appointed an panel of consultants to review whether the current list of 'free to air' sports events should remain available only to freely airing channels.
Minister Eamon Ryan announced he has appointed expert consultants to examine the current list of sporting events available as free-to-air, which include Irish Rugby and GAA.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has been critical of the current situation where competitions such as the Six Nations and Heineken Cup are available on terrestrial TV and can't be sold exclusively to pay per view broadcasters.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the GAA have also expressed concern at elements of the proposals.
Following a month-long tender process, Indecon International Economic Consultants has been chosen to study the proposal and prepare a report on the Review of Designated Events and the Designation of Events of Major Importance to Society under the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Minister Ryan is obliged to review the list of sporting events of public importance that should be made available on free-to-air television under the terms of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the Broadcasting Act 2009.
The events currently designated under the Broadcasting Act, 2009 are the Summer Olympics, the All-Ireland football and hurling finals, Ireland's home and away qualifying and any tournament games in the soccer European championships and the FIFA World Cup tournaments, Ireland's games in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament and the Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby. The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show also feature on the list.
Last years ruling saw each of Ireland's games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship designated as an event of "major importance to society" but the rights were only extended on a deferred basis for free to air stations.
Minister Ryan now wants Ireland's games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship to move from deferred to live, and is also calling for the inclusion of the Cheltenham Festival in the list.
The Minister said: "This contract is to research, analyse, and evaluate the socio-cultural, economic and financial aspects and impacts of the designation of events of major importance to society, for which the right of a qualifying broadcaster to provide coverage on free television services should be provided in the public interest."
He added: "It is my intention to use the report in finalising my consideration of the many complex issues involved in the designation process and I will be asking all key stakeholders to assist the consultants in whatever way possible so that all relevant information and views are taken fully into account."
(DW)
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