GAA and RTÉ need to re-examine GAAGO policy as public missing key matches - Martin

Tánaiste says current broadcasting schedule not striking correct balance between public and commercial interests

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the citizen must be paramount when it comes to the GAA and RTÉ deciding which matches to should show free-to-air as the current GAAGO system is not striking the correct balance between public and commercial interests, leading to fans missing out on key matches.

Mr Martin came out strongly in May against the decision by the GAA and RTÉ to screen some games on GAAGO, a streaming service requiring people to pay a subscription to watch championship matches. On Friday, he reiterated his stance that important games should be free-to-air.

Earlier this week, RTÉ Group Head of Sport Declan McBennett told the Oireachtas Committee on Media that it is “neither realistic nor feasible” that all sport can or will be free-to-air but Mr Martin said there needs to be greater examination of the issue.

“I would have thought in terms of hurling, for example, we want it to reach as broad an audience as possible – there is a danger if you go down one particular route that you are restricting the audience inadvertently,” said Mr Martin at the opening of an affordable homes scheme in Mallow in Co Cork.


“Hurling is such a great game that people from different sporting codes will stop and watch a great hurling match – young kids will watch it in that household which may not be a hurling household and get inspired by it so from a GAA perspective I have concerns about it.

“I think we have to broaden out the audience whereas GAAGO will by definition restrict the audience to those who are following a particular county or a particular club ... you have to reach out to as broad an audience as you possibly can in terms of profiling the games.”

Mr Martin said the whole issue of pay per view streaming of GAA championship matches caught many GAA fans by surprise when they discovered that certain games in the Munster Hurling Championship were not being shown on free to air by RTÉ but were being streamed instead on GAAGO.

“A lot of this caught people by surprise – if you remember the commencement of the Munster hurling championship, two great games were not being covered free to air and it took a lot of people by surprise – these issues need to be discussed in far greater detail.

“I certainly think that a Kerry-Tyrone game in an Ireland quarter final ... should be on free to air to TV – there were a lot of groans around the country when it transpired that it wasn’t – okay people will adjust and will purchase GAAGO but the citizen always has to be centre stage here.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times