Northern Ireland news

Nationalist parties hold meetings about GAA television coverage

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty attended a meeting with GAA director general Tom Ryan along with councillors Mark Murnin Thomas O'Hanlon
Connla Young

THE SDLP has met with the GAA’s director general to discuss increasing TV coverage of Gaelic games in the north.

The meeting came as a Sinn Féin delegation also met with Ofcom officials to raise concerns about ‘geo-blocking’ of major sports events.

Geo-blocking is a system that limits access to the internet based on geographic location.

In recent months concerns have been raised again about access to GAA programming by Gaels in the north.

Earlier this year the BBC announced it was cutting the number of championship games it broadcast live from seven to two – the lowest number since 1990.

GAA fans who do not have access to Sky, which also broadcasts live games, have also lost out.

Last month the satellite company was forced to apologise after viewers in the north were unable to view The Sunday Game highlights show.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, who was part of the Armagh 2002 All-Ireland winning team, met director general Tom Ryan this week.

Mr McNulty said the meeting was “extremely positive”.

“Tom and his senior team are acutely aware of the issues surrounding the lack of coverage of Gaelic games, particularly those involved in Ulster football, and have agreed to review all their games coverage at the end of this year’s championship,” he said.

“We stressed that it is imperative that lessons are learned about the lack of coverage on both RTÉ and BBC and that this must not be repeated.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis and Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile held a meeting with communication regulator Ofcom.

Ms Ennis said the delegation raised issues of concern.

“We gave an update on the use of ‘different IP addresses’ which are cited as the source of the problem for the digital block on sports events in the north,” she said.

“We urged Ofcom, as the broadcasting regulator, to ensure broadcasters are fulfilling their obligations to reflect the ethnic make up of the population in their programming.

“Ofcom should also ensure that broadcasters are abiding by their own mission statements and providing value for money for customers and viewers across the island.”

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