Government begins effort to ensure future Ireland Six Nations matches are ‘free-to-air’

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, Alex White T.D., today launched a public consultation concerning the possible designation of Ireland’s Six Nations matches as one of three additional “events of major importance to society”.

Such a designation ensures they remain available on a free-to-air basis for Irish television viewers.

The Broadcasting Act 2009 allows the Minister to designate certain sporting and cultural events of major importance to society in order to make them freely available on national television (e.g. TV3, TG4, RTE, UTV).

This list currently includes events such as the Summer Olympics, the All-Ireland senior hurling and football finals, the Irish soccer team’s home and away qualifiers at both a European and World Cup level and the Irish Grand National among other equestrian events.

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However, the Minister today placed advertisements in the national press seeking submissions from interested parties on the current list and the possible designation of three additional events, most notably Ireland’s games in the Six nations.

The other events Minister White is hoping to bring under the free-to-air umbrella are the All-Ireland senior ladies football final and senior camogie final.

The Six Nations is likely to be the most contentious with the IRFU previously expressing concern that any move to designate Ireland’s matches as free-to-air would see the organisation miss out financially when the competing countries begin negotiations for a new TV deal in 2017.

Ireland’s matches are currently designated free-to-air on a deferred basis only.

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