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Game on as TV3 shares spoils

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GAA armchair fans will get the opportunity to watch All-Ireland heroes such as Kerry's Kieran
Donaghy and Colm Cooper on an independent terrestrial station for the first time

GAA armchair fans will get the opportunity to watch All-Ireland heroes such as Kerry's Kieran Donaghy and Colm Cooper on an independent terrestrial station for the first time

GAA armchair fans will get the opportunity to watch All-Ireland heroes such as Kerry's Kieran Donaghy and Colm Cooper on an independent terrestrial station for the first time

RTE has lost the exclusive rights to screen the most prominent sporting championship in the country for the first time in the station's history.

Rivals TV3 were celebrating last night after it was confirmed the smaller commercial station had secured the rights to screen 30 GAA championship matches between 2008 and 2010.

While Setanta Sports and TG4 have shown league and club games before, this will be the first time that the championship games will not be screened on RTE.

GAA officials are currently carving up the rights of who will broadcast championship and league matches for the three seasons.

Earlier this week, GAA president Nickey Brennan said no new TV deal for the GAA's championship package would be announced this side of Christmas.

TV3 has secured one of five exclusive live TV packages for the championship which gives it the right to screen 10 games in each season.

Although the exact matches which TV3 has under its belt have not been decided, they will include two provincial finals, either hurling or football.

The rest of the matches will be comprised of provincial semi-finals and qualifiers for the football championship.

The news will come as another bodyblow to RTE Sport which recently lost out on the right to screen the rugby world cup to both Setanta Sport and TV3.

RTE lost out in the bidding for the world cup to Setanta who had 'free to air' channel TV3 as partners.

Last night a statement from RTE said the national broadcaster was "disappointed" with the decision of the GAA.

In all, 25 packages of broadcasting rights were put forward by the GAA for the league and championship, including TV, radio, internet and foreign coverage.

The remaining four live championship TV packages are still up for grabs with the decision not yet made on who will screen 120 games over three years, including the All Ireland final each year.

Yesterday, commercial director of TV3 Pat Kiely said the GAA had been a target for the station and they intended on bidding for further games.

"The significance from our point of view is that we are guaranteed live coverage of the GAA on the channel for the next three years," said Mr Kiely.

"It is the first time we have ever got it, it is the first time live championship action will be shown outside of RTE."

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He refused to comment on how much TV3 had bid for the package of games.

What games the station will broadcast will be pinned down after all of the lucrative packages have been decided in the coming weeks.

In this round of bids, RTE has secured three sets of radio broadcast rights and one for 'video-on-demand'.

"RTE has secured four of the eight packages allocated by the GAA so far," said a statement from the national broadcaster.

"We are disappointed with the GAA's decision on the allocation of the 'Live TV Rights package III'.

"However, only 30 out of the 150 games have been allocated yet. None of the games from the top two packages have been decided upon.

"Until negotiations are completed on all packages, we will not be making any further comment."

TV3 executives were told of the decision on Wednesday night.


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