Clare Independent Deputy Michael McNamara has called on the GAA to ensure free to air broadcasting of all games from next year.
The Clare Independent TD was speaking ahead of renegotiation of the GAA’s contract with Sky Sports for exclusive coverage of certain matches. A five-year deal original was agreed with the subscription-based broadcaster in 2014 before being extended two years later until 2021.
“GAA coverage cannot be auctioned off to the highest bidder in future,” stated Deputy McNamara.
He added, “Excessive Sky subscription costs, ongoing restrictions on attendances at matches, as well as restrictions on pubs showing matches means that many people will miss out Clare’s game with Wexford in Thurles this weekend at 1.30pm, a time that is ultimately dictated by the broadcaster.
While I acknowledge that the GAA GO service also enables supporters to subscribe and watch the game online, many people in rural parts of the county are disadvantaged by not having access to good quality broadband connectivity and in some cases, any broadband services.”
Deputy McNamara added, “This issue is a source of great frustration to most people in Clare and throughout the country as they rightly believe that our national game should be free to air for everyone to enjoy. I believe the GAA’s decision to agree a contract with Sky in 2014 was wrong then and I believe it would be wrong now to renew this contract beyond 2021.”
“Government must work with the GAA to ensure our national game is free to air when the current agreement expires later this year,” concluded Deputy McNamara.