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05/05/2011

Minister Reviews 'Free-To-Air' Sporting Events

The Irish Republic's Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has decided that the current list of sports events designated for coverage on free-to- air television services should not be amended at this time.
The events currently listed are: the Summer Olympics, the All-Ireland Senior Football & Hurling Finals, Ireland’s qualifying games in the European Football Championship & World Cup, the European Football Championship, the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament, the Irish Grand National, the Irish Derby, the Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show, and Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship.
Mr Pat Rabbitte T.D., made his decision following a detailed public consultation process and an independent report prepared by Indecon International Consultants. A copy of the report, redacted to omit commercially sensitive material, will now be made available on the Department’s website.
The Minister said: “A broad spectrum of support existed for the current list while a range of other events had been the subject of submissions as part of the public consultation. However, on balance, and after considering all factors I decided to continue with the designation of the current list of events, on the same basis, and not to add any additional events to that list.”
The Minister indicated that games in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament and European Rugby Cup (Heineken Cup) tournament gave rise to most submissions. However, following a detailed consideration of all the factors he had decided not to designate these events as live and free-to- air. He noted that a balance had to be struck which ensured the financial viability of sports as well as the maximum access for viewers.
He also noted that the Six Nations will remain designated as deferred but that it is in fact shown live. The Minister stated that he would be prepared to intervene in the event that it was proposed in the future that the Six Nations would no longer be available live and free to air. He also noted that based on GAA assurances, he believes that the events which were considered for designation will continue to be shown on a free to air basis.
The Minister thanked those who had participated in the consultation process in particular members of the public, event organisers, and broadcasters.
(BMcN/KMcA)
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