The GAA has hit back at Virgin Media for its GAAGO consultation claims

The GAA has hit back at Virgin Media for its GAAGO consultation claims

THE GAA have responded to Virgin Media Televison's claims that they weren't consulted about hosting GAA games when the Sky's broadcast deal ended. 

The GAA has responded to Virgin Media Television's claims that they weren't consulted about hosting GAA games when the Sky's broadcast deal ended.

This week, RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster, and its streaming platform GAAGO have come under fire for not hosting games in the Munster Hurling Senior Championship. Clare and Limerick, and Cork and Tipperary were both behind a paywall and not on RTE, where people would normally watch it.

This trend is set to continue with a number of high profile games still to come over the coming weeks.

A number of people who follow the GAA inside and out have had their say on a matter, which has enraged so many. It was also confirmed this week that members of an Oireachtas committee plan to summon representatives from RTÉ and GAA to address the GAAGO controversy.

The likes of The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, and former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack spoke during the week.

On Tuesday, rival broadcaster Virgin Media Television criticised the partnership between RTÉ and GAA over the streaming platform, stating that other broadcasters were not approached about the possibility of airing some GAA matches after the previous Sky deal ended.

The statement from Virgin read: "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?"

The GAA responded to Virgin's statement, highlighting alleged errors in the statement.

GAA full statement on Media Rights 

"On Tuesday May 9th, VMTV (Virgin Media Television) issued a  statement that called into question the integrity of the GAA Media Rights process. The statement contained several factual errors and misleading  comments," started the statement.

"The GAA contacted VMTV and requested that they correct their  statement. Since this has not been forthcoming, the GAA, reluctantly,  issues the following to correct the record.

"Strategically, the GAA media rights are designed to:

a) "Maximise coverage. We bias toward ‘Free To Air’.

b) "Support the Irish language. We bias toward TG4.

c) "Generate a fair commercial value for our rights. We seek to keep  commercial tension to the fore by seeking an agile, competent  third party.

1. "From as early as February 2021, the GAA contacted VMTV and  other parties to gauge their interest in acquiring rights packages  that would become available in the renewal of the GAA media  rights in 2022. The initial call was followed up by a detailed  description of the various packages available.

2. "Thereafter followed several meetings, telephone calls, emails and  document exchanges between the parties.

3. "The GAA did not receive a formal bid from VMTV or an  expression of interest.

4. "In June 2022, VMTV were again contacted to clarify that they did  not intend to make a bid. VMTV were clear that their model was  not to acquire rights but rather to acquire ‘ready to go’ packages ie productions which don’t require outside broadcast set-ups for  live match coverage.

5. "In short, VMTV were afforded every opportunity to discuss  options, variations to packages and to submit a confidential offer.  VMTV choose not to bid.

6. GAA continued discussions with other parties.

7. "Specifically in respect of one party, the GAA was unable to  deliver Sky’s preferred selection as strategically we wanted  greater free to air coverage for our National League Package.  These rights subsequently went to TG4 and RTÉ. Whilst Sky did  bid for a lesser package, the GAA decided to progress with  GAAGO. This was because GAAGO could facilitate greater  flexibility on match schedules, provide coverage for an additional  24 games and offer the opportunity for more flexible pricing for  viewers and members. The finances involved were in fact similar.

8. "Recently GAAGO has been the subject of considerable commentary and we will conduct a comprehensive review of its  operation at season end. "