A motion calling on the GAA not to renew or renegotiate a pay-per-view TV deal was unanimously passed on Tuesday night, which will see the matter being put to the GAA Congress in February, according to The42.ie.
The motion was put forward by Boyle GAA club at the Roscommon GAA Convention and received no opposition.
The GAA’s current deal with Sky Sports is set to expire in 2022, but concerns have been voiced regarding the accessibility and affordability of such coverage, thus leading to opposition towards a renewal.
The motion proposes:
“That Cumann Lúthchleas Gael do not renew nor enter contracts with television companies that require pay per view, for coverage of our national games after the current contract expires.”
Mary Clifford, a delegate representing the club in question, said that all members of the western club were keen to see the back of Sky Sports’ relationship with the GAA, despite the revenue it brings in to the organisation.
Clifford acknowledged the view that all inter-county fixtures should be available to regular TV viewers on national channels such as RTÉ, TV3 and TG4.
“The purpose of the motion is to ensure that television coverage of our games is available free to air to everyone who has access to a television.
“Viewing numbers were very small and that’s one of the reasons we wanted this proposed. That fact that Sky Sports have exclusive rights to 14 of our championship games deprives our generous supporters, particularly the elderly people.
“The GAA is an organisation representing every parish in Ireland and we always hear so much about social exclusion, and the way television rights are going we won’t be seeing our games.”
Concerns have been expressed over large portions of communities who do not have the means to purchase access to subscription channels since the GAA initially first put viewing behind a paywall for the 2014 championship.
The current five-year agreement in place is a strong mutual commitment between the GAA and Sky Sports given the controversy that surrounded the initial deal three years ago.
Though the motion will surely gather some support when tabled to Congress in 2018, one imagines it will take plenty more opposition and backing before the GAA decide to cut ties with Sky Sports – especially given the championship restructuring, which allows for even more games to be shown on the pay-per-view channel in the coming seasons.
This motion will certainly gather more headlines as congress discuss the matter, but opposition continues to mount towards the ever-growing influence of Sky Sports.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena