Virgin Media statement on GAAGO controversy.
Virgin Media have issued a strong statement questioning whether RTE has paid for the GAA’s broadcast rights associated with GAAGO.
As the controversy over the lack of hurling matches on TV rumbles on, the independent station stated that RTE’s position as a shareholder in GAAGO has never been mentioned in discussions, and that they were themselves never approached by the GAA when the association’s deal with Sky Television ended last year.
Virgin Media statement.
Virgin also refuted comments made by former GAA President Liam O’Neill on RTE’s Upfront current affairs programme on Monday night.
“On RTÉ’s One’s Upfront current affairs programme hosted by Katie Hannon last night (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,” begins the statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“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.”
“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 RTÉ 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.”
With senior hurling once again omitted from terrestrial schedules this weekend, this looks like a controversy that shows little sign of being resolved any time soon.