Pay sports list to remain

The list of sporting events available exclusively on pay TV to viewers in Ireland is to stay the same following the Cabinet’s approval of a decision by the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte not to extend the current list of major national and international sports events designated for live free-to-air broadcast.

Driscoll, Leinster

Former communications minister Eamon Ryan had controversially proposed that events such as the Heineken Cup, Ireland’s rugby games in the Six Nations tournament and the Cheltenham horseracing festival should be added to the live free-to-air list given their importance to Irish society.

Minister Rabbitte said he made the decision “on balance” after hearing submissions and considering the Indecon report ordered by his predecessor. Indecon disagreed with the IRFU that the Heineken Cup and the Six Nations were not events of major importance to people in Ireland.

The consultants also disagreed with the IRFU over the financial losses the union would lose if the games were made free-to-air. Indecon put the annual loss at about €6.5 million, about half the total estimated by the IRFU. Sky Sports owns the rights to live coverage of the Heineken Cup.

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