Ryan calls on Government to protect public access to live sport
Wednesday 11th February 2015, Dublin.
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan has today called on Minister for Communications Alex White to protect public access to live sport following an unprecedented move of a number of leading events to Pay Per View TV. Every three years the Minister has the option of designating certain sporting events for inclusion on a ‘free-to-air’ programming list. The consultation on this process closed six months ago next Saturday 14th February, and Minister White’s decision is overdue.
Ryan said: “The fears we raised about the sale of national sporting events to subscription TV have proven well founded. In the last year rugby fans have been forced to cough up for both BT & Sky subscriptions to watch their provincial team play in Europe, and the Guinness Pro 12 has also gone partly behind a paywall. Supporters in the North couldn’t get to see the autumn internationals, and now the summer internationals have been sold off as well. The British Open has been sold to Sky TV, and the numbers watching Gaelic football and Hurling Championship matches have plummeted following the sale of television rights for certain matches to the same company.
“Minister White has been sitting on the results of the public consultation on free-to-air sporting events for almost six months now, and it’s high time he let us know what his decision is. The analysis we carried out in Government showed that the Rugby Champions Cup and Gaelic Championship games qualify for inclusion in the designated list. There is nothing stopping the Labour Party ensuring that more games are kept free-to-air so that everyone, no matter what their income, can support their local team. It is a test of their social democratic credentials. They should stand up for the viewing public before it is too late and our whole sporting life is sold off to the highest bidder.”