Six Nations free-to-air announcement a positive development


Minister for Communications Alex White today (Wednesday) said the announcement that the Six Nations Rugby Championship will continue to be broadcast live on a free-to-air terrestrial TV channel until 2021 was a positive development, which he would take into account when considering the future designation of the tournament.

It was announced today that the championship will be broadcast by TV3 between 2017 and 2021. An existing arrangement with RTÉ is in place for the period up to 2017.

Minister White said he had yet to decide whether to re-designate Irish games in the tournament, under the Broadcasting Act 2009, so that they are legally required to be broadcast live on at least one free-to-air Irish TV channel.

Minister White said: “The agreement announced today is a positive development, which will be warmly welcomed by rugby fans across the country. I will certainly take it into account when making my decision on the possible live designation of Ireland’s Six Nation ties in the longer term.

“I have been consulting with sporting bodies, broadcasters and the public on this issue, and I understand that the rugby authorities want to maintain free access to live TV coverage of Irish games in this championship. My role is to decide whether, in the long-term, this is best done by designating the events or by leaving things as they are.”

Contracts agreed between broadcasters and the sporting bodies have resulted in live free-to-air broadcasting of Six Nations matches in recent years. But there is currently no legal requirement for this because the event is only listed on a ‘deferred’ basis. This means the Irish games must be broadcast free-to air, but not necessarily live.

Earlier this year, Minister White said he was considering designating three additional events as events of major importance. They are: Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship, the All Ireland Senior Ladies Football Final, and the All Ireland Senior Camogie Final. Over 600 submissions, received in a public consultation, are currently being considered before a decision is made.