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Virgin Media throw further fuel on GAAGO fire as they hit out at GAA and RTÉ

GAA paywall row takes a new twist after days of debate

GAAGO is co-owned by the GAA and RTÉ© SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

Virgin Media have fired shots at the GAA amid the GAAGO controversy by suggesting that Croke Park "did not approach other broadcasters" to see if they were interested in broadcasting games after their existing deal with Sky finished at the end of the 2022 season.

Putting GAA games behind a paywall has caused a furore in recent weeks and Virgin Media have added further fuel to that fire with a hard-hitting statement that will have tongues wagging around the country.

The full Virgin Media Television statement read: "On RTÉ One’s Upfront current affairs programme hosted by Katie Hannon last night (Monday 8th May 2023), former GAA president Liam O’Neill was addressing the issue of the paywalling of GAA sports onto the GAAGO platform, a joint venture between RTÉ and the GAA.

"During his comments, Mr. O’Neill said, 'We did it in the best interests of games because, at the time TV3 was going out, and it ultimately went out of business. We would only (have) had one station covering, we thought it was best to examine other options'.

"Virgin Media Television wishes it to be clarified that TV3 did not go out of business, as stated by Mr. O’Neill. Based on its continuous success and achievements as a leading Irish broadcaster, TV3 was purchased by Virgin Media in July 2015 and subsequently rebranded to Virgin Media Television in June 2018 where VMTV continues to be the leading independent, commercial public service broadcaster in Ireland.

"RTÉ is a 50% shareholder in GAAGO, this has never been clarified in any editorial discussion about GAAGO and the decision not to show key games on Free to Air television.

"When Sky Television decided not to renew its GAA rights, the GAA did not approach other broadcasters to ascertain whether they would be interested in broadcasting these games but arbitrarily decided to put them behind a paywall.

"The question must be asked, did RTE pay anything for these rights or did they just agree to keep them behind a paywall to drive incremental revenues for both partners in GAAGO, i.e. RTÉ and the GAA

"Given the multi-million increases in State funding to RTÉ over recent years, RTÉ now has more Sports rights than it can show on its channels, with licence payers now being forced to further subsidise RTÉ by paying for GAA Sports content through its joint-venture with the GAA."

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