Tuesday 6 December 2016

O'Mahony urges GAA to ensure all quarter-finals are free-to-air

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

John O'Mahony has called on the GAA to ensure that all four All-Ireland quarter-finals are included on the free-to-air schedule. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
John O'Mahony has called on the GAA to ensure that all four All-Ireland quarter-finals are included on the free-to-air schedule. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

John O'Mahony has called on the GAA to ensure that all four All-Ireland quarter-finals are included on the free-to-air schedule under the new TV rights deal which will apply from next year.

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And the Fine Gael Senator, who managed Mayo, Galway and Leitrim for many years, also wants Croke Park to guard against the situation in which Mayo found themselves this year when many of their championship games were shown of Sky rather than RTE.

"It could happen to any county, depending on how the draw went, but in this case it just happened to be Mayo. No county should have quite a few of their games on a pay-per-view channel.

"Sky's penetration wouldn't be all that high in Mayo,which made it hard for some people to see the games. That was disappointing," he said.

Under the deal which expired this year, Sky also had exclusive access to two football quarter-finals. They showed the Dublin-Donegal and Mayo-Tyrone games this year, while RTE screened Galway-Tipperary and Kerry-Clare.

"I think all four quarter-finals should be free-to-air. They are very big occasions and should be available to as wide an audience as possible," O'Mahony said.

"I'm not an extremist when it comes to TV rights but obviously I want to see as many of the games as possible available to everyone."

O'Mahony, who chaired the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Communications and Sport in the last Dáil, said he understood why the GAA wanted to keep all their negotiating options open by not excluding pay-per-view channels.

"At the same time, it's important not to sleepwalk into a situation where more games go on pay-per-view.

"We don't want a situation where coverage would have to be protected under the list of events which have to be free-to-air. Hopefully, it will never come to that," he said.

Irish Independent

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