Northern Ireland

Minister concerned over GAA deal with Sky Sport

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Media captionCarál Ní Chuilín said broadcasting rights for GAA matches were a "matter between the organisation and the respective broadcasters".

The Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said she is concerned that those who cannot afford to pay may miss out on watching GAA games on Sky Sports.

The GAA has agreed a deal with the broadcaster that will mean some live Championship games will become pay-per-view.

The sports body has strongly defended its decision to agree a deal with Sky.

Ms Ní Chuilín said she would be happy to raise any concerns about the GAA's deal if they were brought to her.

But she cautioned that broadcasting rights for GAA matches were a "matter between the organisation and the respective broadcasters".

"It does concern me because as a province Ulster have been very successful, particularly in the all-Ireland arena and I think at times there's been a partitionist approach to broadcasting GAA games," she said.

"If Sky is worldwide, beaming games worldwide, that's a good thing, but I don't want that to be at the detriment of local broadcasting.

'Spectacle'

"I also don't want it to be at the detriment of the people who don't have Sky or who don't have digital or satellite television to be prevented from seeing one of the best games ever so while it is a matter for the GAA, I do have concerns and I wish them well in trying to get it worked out."

The sports minister said if the deal "had been done" with Sky, then the GAA should disclose the nature of the deal.

"I represent sports in the north and many concerns that all the different bodies throughout the years have brought, I've brought it to the governing bodies and I'm quite happy to do it with this, but this isn't just about sport, this is also about making sure people in the north are not further disenfranchised," she added.

"I receive quite a number of complaints about GAA games that are held in Croke Park that we can't see on our local TV stations and that's a problem as well, so maybe this is added to a list of things I need to talk to the GAA about."

The GAA confirmed that the deal with Sky was "commercially sensitive", but added that last year its overall revenue was 55m euros, 41m of which was reinvested in stadiums, clubs, coaching and other grassroots activities.

Under the new arrangements, Sky Sports will have exclusive island of Ireland rights to 14 championship games while along with RTÉ, they will also have live coverage of the All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and finals.

RTÉ will have 31 live games, which will include the All-Ireland senior finals and semi-finals in both codes.

Sky's 14 exclusive matches will consist of eight Saturday evening All-Ireland qualifiers, two All-Ireland football quarter-finals, plus four provincial championship games.

All Sky's live 20 games will be available to its subscribers in Ireland and Britain.

Under the new broadcasting deal, BBC Northern Ireland will continue to broadcast Ulster Championship matches, including the provincial football final, which are also being shown live on RTÉ.

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