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GAA’s pay-television strategy set to come under scrutiny

Three County Clare clubs have formed motions to their county convention seeking free to air television coverage of Gaelic Athletic Association Championship matches beyond the expiry of the current broadcast deal in 2017, according to the Irish Independent.

The newspaper said the motion from Eire Og, Clonlara and Scarriff is a “clear response” to the GAA’s current rights deal with pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports.

In April, Sky, public-service broadcaster RTÉ, pay-television broadcaster Setanta Sports and Irish-language free-to-air broadcaster TG4 were awarded rights for GAA football and hurling in Ireland in four-year deals from 2014 to 2017.

Sky acquired exclusive rights in Ireland to 14 championship games, including eight Saturday evening matches in the All-Ireland qualifiers, two All-Ireland football championship quarter-finals and four provincial championship games on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Despite RTE retaining live rights to 31 games per year, the move to award exclusive rights to Sky came in for widespread criticism and was interpreted as the latest and most significant threat to the GAA’s proudly held amateur status.

The Independent said Thursday’s County Clare convention will see Eire Og, Clonlara and Scarriff call on the GAA not to give exclusive rights to subscription channels again. The newspaper added that any motion passed to this effect could have an impact on the GAA’s future rights negotiations.