Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
32. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she has held recent discussions with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with regard to the free-to-air proposals; her view on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44138/10]
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport (Deputy Mary Hanafin): The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is statutorily required to consult with me before making an order or amending an order to list events of major importance which must be available on free television service. As Deputies will be aware, the Minister has proposed the designation of certain rugby and GAA matches as free to air, along with the Cheltenham festival.
The IRFU considers that any form of change to the existing designated list would have a very significant impact on revenues to the organisation which would hugely impact on its grass roots programmes and would lead to an exodus of professional players to other jurisdictions. The organisation considers that the proposals would undermine the economic model on which the funding of Irish rugby is based.
As Minister with responsibility for sport, I appreciate the desire to make sporting events available for viewing to as many people as possible. However, at the same time it is vital that sporting bodies are able to fund and thereby sustain and develop their sport.
In August, he appointed Indecon consultants to study his proposal and prepare a report on the issue. Indecon’s contract is to research, analyse, and evaluate the socio-cultural, economic and financial aspects and impacts of the designation of events of major importance to society, for which the right of a qualifying broadcaster to provide coverage on free television services should be provided in the public interest.
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