Northern Ireland news

Viewers angry after missing out on Armagh game

RTÉ coverage of Armagh's GAA All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Roscommon on Saturday was unavailable to many northern viewers. Picture by Philip Walsh.
John Monaghan

RTÉ has dealt with "dozens" of complaints from frustrated GAA fans across the north who were left unable to watch a live broadcast.

Fans took to social media to express anger that the All-Ireland qualifier between Armagh and Roscommon, which was screened online via the RTÉ News Now channel, was unavailable on the RTÉ Player.

Updates throughout the game were posted on RTÉ's social media feeds, but northern viewers also complained of being blocked from seeing the video highlights of key points and goals.

It came just days after RTÉ had pledged that the game, which Roscommon won by six points, would be aired throughout Ireland.

RTÉ has said that the problems were "not an RTÉ issue" and were instead caused by IP addresses defaulting to locations in England and thereby blocking the programme.

IP (internet protocol) addresses are numbers used to identify and locate computers or devices involved in online traffic.

RTÉ and TG4 programmes are often 'geo-blocked' for northern web users whose devices are incorrectly linked to locations in England.

The issue has been the subject of much debate over recent years and was discussed by a Stormont committee before the collapse of power-sharing.

In 2015, a briefing report from Ofcom, the communications regulator, was provided to members of the assembly's enterprise, trade and investment committee, which was exploring the possibility of seeking a separate IP address for the north.

The Ofcom report said this would be "inefficient and costly" and queried whether such a service would always be accurate.

It said: "It would be technically possible...(but) such a process could be an inefficient way for ISPs (internet service providers) to manage what is a finite resource and would be costly to implement. As such it would remain a commercial decision for each ISP."

Of the problems experienced during the Armagh game, a spokesman for RTÉ said: "We advised those affected to contact their ISPs, as it is not an RTÉ issue."

Last month Sky issued an apology after fans vented their fury after being unable to watch an episode of RTÉ's GAA championship highlights show The Sunday Game.

Sky said it had been in contact with RTÉ and has "taken steps to ensure this will not happen again".

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