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What events are most important for Ireland? Pat Rabbitte wants to know

A number of ‘Designated Events’ are made available on free-to-air television

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A REVIEW OF which sporting and cultural events should be available on free-to-air television in Ireland has been announced by government.

Under current legislation, a review of which events are deemed of “major importance to society’ and should be broadcast is undertaken every three years.

In 2011, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte decided the current list of Designated Events was sufficient and it remained unchanged.

It currently consists of:

  • The Summer Olympics
  • The All-Ireland Senior Football & Hurling Finals
  • Ireland’s qualifying games in the European Football Championship & World Cup
  • Opening games, semi-finals and final of the European Football Championship Finals and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament
  • The Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby
  • The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show.

These are earmarked for ‘live coverage’, while Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship are also contained on the list on a “deferred basis”, meaning they can be broadcast at a later date.

“It is important that national events which are of great significance to Ireland be shown free to air and be available for us all to enjoy,” Minister Rabbitte said.

I would urge all interested parties and members of the public to submit their views to my Department, which I will ensure are considered and will assist me in making my decision.

Fine Gael TD and Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, John O’Mahony said the recent Sky GAA deal highlights the importance of free-to-air programming.

“I believe that provincial GAA finals should be designated as free to air and this process enables us to ensure that such events are designated accordingly,” he said.

State broadcaster RTÉ came under fire this week for its decision to not show live coverage of the National Special Olympics, taking place in Limerick this month.

“In a time when we say we want to promote equality and inclusion in our country,” Labour Senator Mary Moran said, “I feel we owe it to our 1,500 athletes, to the 3000 volunteers and the thousands of spectators and family members who will attend the games.”

Ryle Nugent, Group Head of Sport at RTÉ, said that the state broadcaster recognised the “importance of the games” but has never broadcast them live, citing a lack of resources.

Read: RTÉ says televising National Special Olympics would be too expensive >

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Nicky Ryan

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