The GAA are confident that next Monday’s launch of the 2024 GAAGO coverage can go ahead despite no official word from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which last summer decided that the streaming service, a joint venture between the GAA and RTÉ, may have been in breach of competition law when it expanded its activities beyond the overseas market and into the domestic.
“Our consultants’ advice has been that as a two-year deal – with just one year to run – it is not causing undue concern to the commission,” said the GAA’s Commercial Director Peter McKenna.
The CCPC was approached for a comment and although there was no immediate response, up to last week its position was that the commission’s Enforcement Division had no update on the matter.
The matter came to prominence during July’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on the future of sports broadcasting when the question of whether GAAGO had secured clearance from the CCPC to move into the domestic market was raised. It then emerged that the expanded venture hadn’t been cleared by the commission.
In answer to follow-up inquiries, the commission said that it had engaged with RTÉ and the GAA in May, “when it became apparent that the activities of GAAGO may have extended beyond those previously cleared by the CCPC”.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 last July, Richard Bunworth a solicitor and Irish Research Council scholar at the UCD School of Law said about GAAGO, “If there was fundamental change in what it’s doing, the question arises whether it should have re-notified the CCPC.”
He added that it was important to recognise that the commission had “not yet suggested that this has to be re-notified”.
The venture was put together quite quickly 12 months ago after rights holder Sky Sports announced in October that it would be withdrawing from the bidding process to renew its rights deal. GAAGO had up until then been a global streaming service for countries outside Ireland and Britain.
Although subscription viewing has been part of the GAA’s broadcast coverage since 2004 and its championship coverage since 2014, there were numerous complaints about some of the matches that ended up behind the paywall as well as the quality of available broadband.
The association undertook to review the operation of its streaming service once the season had ended.
On Thursday the GAA announced that it would be launching GAAGO’s 2024 season next Monday.
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