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RTÉ and BBC lose out on Olympic coverage rights


Katie Taylor with young fans Sophie Clancy (12) and Ellie Maher (10)

Katie Taylor with young fans Sophie Clancy (12) and Ellie Maher (10)

Steve Humphreys

Katie Taylor with young fans Sophie Clancy (12) and Ellie Maher (10)

RTÉ has insisted it will make "every effort" to air the Summer Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024 - despite losing the broadcasting rights.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced US broadcaster Discovery, parent of Eurosport, had signed a €1.3b exclusive Pan-European broadcast deal for summer and winter Olympic Games from 2018-2024.

THERE was a hero’s welcome for Katie Taylor and Michael O'Reilly at Dublin Airport this morning as the champion boxer celebrated another gold medal.

The deal will have a direct impact on all national broadcasters in Europe including RTÉ and the BBC.

However, all is not lost. Discovery will sub-license some of the Olympic coverage to different European markets.

In Ireland, under the Broadcasting Act 2009, the Summer Olympics are listed as a Designated Major Event which must be shown free-to-air.

RTÉ, which previously secured the rights to Olympics Games through the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), is "hopeful" Discovery will give it the opportunity to sub-license the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

"RTÉ remains optimistic that a solution can be found," a spokesperson for the station said.

"RTÉ will make every effort to secure the rights for the Summer Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024 so Irish viewers can watch home-produced, relevant coverage of Irish athletes competing both in Tokyo in 2020 and at the 2024 Summer Games."

The spokesperson added "home-produced coverage" is something that would be sorely lost "in the event of pan-European coverage".

Rival station TV3 has also expressed an interest in transmitting some of the Summer Olympics.

"We would absolutely be interested in sub-licensing some of these events," a TV3 spokesperson said.

"This pan-European deal with Eurosport arguably makes it easier for TV3 to sub-license events."

The possibility of losing the rights to air any of the Olympic Games would undoubtedly come as a blow to RTÉ's sports department.

In recent years, RTÉ has lost the rights to several major sporting events.

In 2013, the state broadcaster lost the rights to the Premiere League and last year competitor TV3 secured the rights for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Speaking at the time, RTÉ managing director Glen Killane said: "It's a very competitive environment...but we are facing harder competition from international competitors with far deeper pockets."

Minister of State for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, described Discovery's pan-European deal as "very disappointing for Irish athletes and Irish sports fans".

"RTÉ cannot compete with budgets on that scale," he said.

"It's disappointing and ultimately sports fans will lose out."

RTÉ is now focusing on the 2016 coverage.

Irish Independent