In a surprising turn of events, Virgin Media has raised questions regarding the financial contributions made by RTÉ towards the media rights associated with GAAGO, the streaming service for GAA games.
In a statement issued today, the independent broadcasting company revealed that they were not approached by the GAA when the long-standing partnership between the sports organization and Sky Sports came to an end in 2022 after eight years.
Virgin Media further alleged that TV licence payers are effectively subsidizing RTÉ due to the broadcaster’s inability to accommodate the extensive sports rights they have acquired through government funding.
The statement highlighted a crucial point: RTÉ holds a 50% stake in GAAGO, a fact that has not been sufficiently addressed in discussions surrounding the platform and the decision to withhold key games from free-to-air television.
According to Virgin Media, when Sky Television opted not to renew its GAA rights, the GAA did not approach other broadcasters to gauge their interest in broadcasting these games. Instead, the GAA unilaterally decided to place them behind a paywall.
The statement raised a pertinent question: Did RTÉ pay anything for these rights, or did they agree to keep them behind a paywall in order to generate additional revenues for both RTÉ and the GAA through their joint venture, GAAGO?
Given the significant increase in state funding allocated to RTÉ in recent years, the broadcaster now possesses a surplus of sports rights that exceed its broadcasting capacity. Consequently, TV licence payers are now compelled to further subsidize RTÉ by paying for GAA sports content through the RTÉ-GAA joint venture.
This development has brought to light the complex dynamics surrounding media rights and their financial implications within the GAA landscape, prompting Virgin Media to raise legitimate concerns over the transparency and fairness of the arrangement.
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