Friday, March 28th 2014
- Jerry Buttimer, a GAA member, former club chairman and former member of the GAA marketing committee, has called on the GAA to ensure that any televised inter-county championship fixtures are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.
I am concerned at reports that the GAA is at an advanced state of negotiations with Sky Sports on a deal regarding the television broadcasting of some inter-county championship matches. Given the social and cultural importance of GAA inter-county championship fixtures I am of the view that all televised inter-county fixtures should be available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.
I have written to the GAA outlining my concerns and asking that it reconsider any arrangement that would result in inter-county championship games not being available on free-to-air TV on the island of Ireland. I have also asked the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to consider looking into this issue.
The GAA is part of the fabric of Irish society. For generations free-to-air broadcasting of inter-county games has been a focus of Sunday afternoons for many families. It is these same people who enjoy watching championship matches that give freely of their own time to help run their local club. If the GAA enter a contract with a subscription only television channel, many of these same people will not get to watch and enjoy the fixtures which are to be televised.
The GAA is a volunteer-led, community-based organisation which relies on the efforts of amateur players. One of its core fundamental principles is the importance of community and every decision taken should reflect this ethos. The broadcasting of inter-county championship fixtures on a subscription-only basis risks undermining this principle. Given the significance of the GAA in Irish society, the organisation should make every effort to ensure that all inter-county championship games shown on TV are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.
Copy of Letter to GAA available here.