Written answers

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Sports Organisations

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

114. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her engagement to date with RTÉ and the GAA in making more GAA games free-to-air; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23651/23]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The designation of events as free to air is an important statutory process which allows for certain events to be so designated following a prescriptive process which is undertaken every three years. The process however, is not intended to ensure free to air coverage of entire competitions or all of one particular sport’s event. Likewise, it is not possible to predict how events and competitions will evolve, such as the changes to both the duration and format of this year's GAA championships.

In the initial stages of designations, two public consultations are undertaken to ensure that events identified are given full consideration. My Department’s officials also consult with stakeholders and the sporting bodies to guarantee all interested parties views can be taken into consideration. In addition to this, and to ensure that the correct balance is being struck, an independent report is undertaken that considers the financial implications of designation to the organisation against the gain to the public of the designation of the event as free to air. Following engagement with the EU Commission to secure a draft Order listing the additional events, the draft order must then be laid before both houses of the Oireachtas.

While the designation of additional championship games will be desirable for a great many people, it is also important to remember that RTÉ has an obligation to provide a broad range of programmes for the benefit and enjoyment of the entire community, while bodies like the GAA have to balance generating revenues to support games development and providing as wide a coverage as possible to matches. 

The issue of sports rights is a commercial one for the GAA as an independent body.  Likewise, RTÉ is an independent body which makes its own commercial, scheduling and editorial decisions.  Given the independence of both bodies in such commercial and scheduling matters, I have not intervened directly in this matter.  I understand that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media will invite both bodies, together with other sports organisations and broadcasters, to appear before it, and I welcome this initiative as it provides an appropriate forum for the matter to be discussed.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.