Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has expressed his disappointment at the removal of the Six Nations Rugby Championships from the “free to air designation list” by Minister Denis Naughten.
Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, the Minister for Communications may designate sporting and cultural events as being of major importance to society and that events so designated should be available on a free-to-air television service. The news broke over the weekend that as part of the required three year review of the list the Ladies Football and Camogie All-Ireland Finals were to be added.
Michael Fitzmaurice said “While I welcome the addition of the Camogie and Ladies Football All Ireland finals to the events that must remain free to air into the future I am disappointed to note that the Six Nations Rugby championship has been omitted from the list. I realise that the championships will be shown on terrestrial TV for the next few years but Minister Naughten should have included the Six Nations championships. Rugby is no longer an elitist game and is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country including in this area where Creggs Rugby club and others have flown the flag for over 40 years’
“The Irish Rugby team have given the country so much excitement in recent years particularly in the Six Nations championships and the last thing we want is for these matches to be shown only on subscription TV in the future. I am calling on the Minister to include the Six Nations Rugby championships on the free to air list” he concluded.
Criteria for designation
To designate an event of major importance to society, the Minister must have regard to a number of criteria particularly;
· The extent to which the event has a special general resonance for the people of Ireland, and
· The extent to which the event has a generally recognised distinct cultural importance for the people of Ireland. The Olympics, All-Ireland finals and Ireland’s games in the soccer World Cup are among the sports events that are currently free to air for television viewers.