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McNamara to raise match coverage rights issue with GAA

CLARE’S Independent TD is to raise the issue of the contractual restrictions faced by the national broadcaster in televising elements of the Senior Hurling Championship with the GAA.

It follows confirmation received by Deputy Michael McNamara that RTÉ is unable to show the Clare v Wexford hurling match on Saturday, because of contractual terms of its coverage.

The Senior Hurling Championship All-Ireland second-round qualifier is being tipped to be a mouth-watering encounter, particularly in light of the rivalry between managers and former All-Ireland winning team-mates Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald.

In a letter to Declan Bennett, seen by The Champion, Deputy Michael McNamara commended RTÉ for televising the Clare v Cork All-Ireland Senior Camogie Quarter Final game and suggested that they would consider doing the same for the hurling match.

“As you will be aware, games have been previously televised on RTÉ News Now,” Deputy McNamra wrote. “Due to the rivalry between the teams and the close association between their managers, Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald, there is great interest in the game. I am aware that the game is being shown on GAAGO but this is not a viable option for the many in Clare and across Ireland that live in broadband blackspots. In fact, Clare County Board has previously expressed its concerns in that regard.”

The Scariff-based deputy confirmed that he received a response to his email on Thursday (November 12) in which Mr Bennett outlined why the national broadcaster is precluded from televising the match.

“Under the contractual terms of our coverage we cannot broadcast at the same time as other broadcasters on our main channels,” the reply said. “We have put RTE games on at the same time as other RTE games and allowed BBC Northern Ireland to broadcast at the same time as RTE games however we cannot have games at the same time as other Championship rights holders.

“RTE always wish to bring the maximum number of games to the public free to air but it is not in our gift to decide solely which games will be on which platforms.Ultimately the broadcast rights belong to the GAA.”

“Therefore, it would seem to me that, unfortunately, the difficulty arises from the GAA’s agreement with other broadcasters. I will be raising this issue with the GAA but, while I would hope it might be taken into account when the current agreement falls to be revised, renewed or replaced, it’s not going to help in time for the game on Saturday. ”

Deputy McNamara said, “In fairness to RTÉ, they have come back with a very fulsome response and it does appear that they would broadcast this game if they could do so under the terms of their coverage deal. I will be raising the issue with the GAA in regard to future coverage of games. The option of availing of a live-streaming service is not a reality for many people because of poor broadband coverage. There’s also an older demographic for whom live-streaming will never be a viable alternative to watching a match on TV or at a GAA grounds. In normal times, people don’t have the option of going to the pub or to a friend’s house to watch matches and if the government allowed the Championship to continue in order to give some people some kind of entertainment, at least it should be made accessible to everyone.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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