Minister White to open consultation on extending list of sporting events designated for live free-to-air broadcast

Minister for Communications, Alex White TD, today (Tuesday) told his Cabinet colleagues that he is considering making an order to designate three additional sporting events as ‘live, free-to-air’. They are:

· The Six Nations Rugby Football Championship

· The All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Final, and

· The All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final.

Minister White will now initiate a consultation process, as required by the Broadcasting Act 2009 and relevant EU legislation. The legislation requires him to:

· Consult with the relevant sporting bodies and the relevant broadcasters (TV3, RTÉ, TG4 and UTV Ireland).

· Publish a notice of any intended designation and invite comments from members of the public.

· Consult with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

· Engage with the European Commission.

In deciding whether to designate the events, the Broadcasting Act, 2009 requires the Minister to have regard to all the circumstances and, in particular, “the extent to which the event has a special general resonance for the people of Ireland” and “the extent to which the event has a generally recognised distinct cultural importance for the people of Ireland.”

Minister White said: “I think there is a strong case for designating these events, but there is no decision yet. The act requires that I consult with sporting bodies, the broadcasters and the public, and I look forward to doing that. Under the legislation, the primary question I have to ask whether these events have a special resonance and distinct cultural significance or importance for the people of Ireland.”

There are currently no female-only sports included in the list of designated sporting events. The inclusion of the All Ireland Senior Ladies Football and the Senior Camogie Finals was fully supported by the relevant sporting organisations in a 2014 public consultation on the issue. The Ladies Gaelic Football Association said the Ladies Football Final was the largest women’s sporting event in Ireland and that designation would “ring fence the sport as occupying an important position in the sporting calendar and put it on par with its male counterparts.” The Camogie Association said that the designation of the Camogie Final would be a timely opportunity to address the failure to include any uniquely female sporting event “in the context of women’s sporting and social equality.”

Should an event be designated under this process, the Broadcasting Act, 2009 says that the relevant broadcaster is required to pay a ‘reasonable market rate’ to the rights-holder for the right to broadcast the event.

The submissions to the 2014 public consultation on designated sporting events will be published on the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website later today.