Virgin Media want to know why the GAA didn’t approach other broadcasters over media rights for GAAGO

Padraig Conlon 10 May 2023

Virgin Media has questioned whether the broadcasting deal between RTÉ and GAAGO was offered to other broadcasters.

In a statement released yesterday, Virgin Media said they were not approached by the GAA when Sky Sports’ partnership with the sports organisation came to an end in 2022 after eight years.

On RTÉ One’s Upfront current affairs programme hosted by Katie Hannon on Monday 8th May 2023, former GAA president Liam O’Neill was addressing the issue of the paywalling of GAA sports onto the GAAGO platform, a joint venture between RTÉ and the GAA.

During his comments, Mr. O’Neill said, “We did it in the best interests of games because, at the time TV3 was going out, and it ultimately went out of business.

“We would only [have] had one station covering, we thought it was best to examine other options.”

In their statement, Virgin Media said:

“Virgin Media Television wishes it to be clarified that TV3 did not go out of business, as stated by Mr. O’Neill.

“Based on its continuous success and achievements as a leading Irish broadcaster, TV3 was purchased by Virgin Media in July 2015 and subsequently rebranded to Virgin Media Television in June 2018 where VMTV continues to be the leading independent, commercial public service broadcaster in Ireland.

“RTÉ is a 50% shareholder in GAAGO, this has never been clarified in any editorial discussion about GAAGO and the decision not to show key games on Free to Air television.

“When Sky Television decided not to renew its GAA rights, the GAA did not approach other broadcasters to ascertain whether they would be interested in broadcasting these games but arbitrarily decided to put them behind a paywall.

“The question must be asked, did RTE pay anything for these rights or did they just agree to keep them behind a paywall to drive incremental revenues for both partners in GAAGO, i.e. RTÉ and the GAA.

“Given the multi-million increases in State funding to RTÉ over recent years, RTÉ now has more Sports rights than it can show on its channels, with licence payers now being forced to further subsidise RTÉ by paying for GAA Sports content through its joint-venture with the GAA.”


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