Sky claims free-to-air policy benefits companies like RTÉ
FAI says having matches on list is inequitable while IRFU objects over Six Nations games
The GAA said the current free-to-air list of events, which included the All-Ireland hurling and football finals, was appropriate and it did not wish to propose or exclude other events. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
there is no case for including sporting events on a designated “free-to-air” list and said the policy amounted to a tax on sport which benefited organisations like RTÉ.
In a submission to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Sky said it was not the role of the Government to dictate what was best for any individual sport.
Sky said that, “given that RTÉ and other terrestrial broadcasters have the resources to bid for non-listed sporting events in the open market, it is both unjustified and unnecessary to force sports bodies effectively to sell their rights to those terrestrial broadcasters by eliminating competition from pay TV broadcasters”.
Sky made its submission as part of a public consultation by the department concerning the review of the free-to-air list that currently includes the summer Olympics, the All-Ireland hurling and football finals and Ireland’s games in the Rugby World Cup.
RTÉ said it believed the list of designated events worked well and “has helped preserve a balanced broadcast environment between pay and free television in Ireland”.
It said a number of sporting events should be added to the free-to-air list, including the All-Ireland senior football and hurling semi-finals and quarter-finals; Six Nations matches featuring Ireland; the opening match and final from the Rugby World Cup and any semi-final and final of a senior European club rugby competition featuring an Irish team.
The RTÉ submission said many people who watched sport had no interest or were unable to pay for their sport and “the majority of these viewers would be lost to sport without sport on free-to-air TV”.
The GAA told the department the current list of events was appropriate and it did not wish to propose or exclude other events.
The FAI said the inclusion of the games had an adverse impact on the FAI’s TV rights and the association’s ability to generate important revenues.
“The right of the FAI to sell our matches to the broadcaster of our choice should not be interfered with unless there is total justification,” it said.
In its submission, the IRFU said the inclusion of live Ireland Six Nation games on the list “would be unjustifiable and therefore unlawful”.
In order to evaluate the submissions as part of a review of the list, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has appointed consultancy firm Indecon.
The value of the contract is valued at just over €100,000 (including VAT).
The consultants will then draw up a report that will inform Minister for Communication Alex White’s decision on the review of the list.