Northern Ireland news

Sky says sorry for blocking GAA show in north

The GAA's decision to split their broadcasting rights up into Island of Ireland and UK has created complications that have affected viewers in the north.

THE fury of the north’s GAA fans blocked from watching RTÉ’s The Sunday Game forced an apology from Sky TV last night.

Viewers vented their frustration after being met with a blank screen when they tuned in for the weekly highlights show, featuring the final round of games in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship and Galway’s Connacht final win over Roscommon.

RTÉ insisted it sent out the programme as normal, but that its broadcast ws blocked by Sky in Northern Ireland.

Last night Sky issued an apology.

“We are sorry that our viewers in Northern Ireland were unable to watch The Sunday Game last night,” the broadcaster said.

“This occurred due to an issue with the list of ‘black outs’ we were provided with for that evening, which meant that The Sunday Game was incorrectly blacked out.

“We have since spoken to RTÉ and taken steps to ensure this will not happen again.”

Viewers on Freeview and BT TV were able to watch the programme as usual.

Earlier RTÉ said it had contacted Sky and asked it to investigate the blackout.

“RTÉ broadcast The Sunday Game on RTÉ 2 last night and made it available to viewers on the island of Ireland,” an RTÉ spokeswoman said yesterday.

“It appears that viewers on the Sky platform in Northern Ireland were unable to watch the programme which is very disappointing.”

Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, left, has pledged to raise  the issue on the floor of the Seanad, saying the “digital partition of Ireland is both unacceptable and unsustainable”.

“The ongoing block on important sporting events broadcast on RTÉ is causing major frustration for sports fans, and members of organisations like the GAA,” he said.

“This treatment of GAA members in the north is unacceptable.

“I will again raise this on the floor of the Seanad in the hope of drawing more attention to this issue.

“I am under no illusions about the complexity of licensing and broadcasting rights but this issue needs addressed and taken into consideration by both RTÉ and the satellite providers when negotiating their deals.”

Last night northern fans said they feared that a repeat of the incident on Sunday could affect their viewing of the Ulster Final.

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