Pub audience ‘doubles’ if TV rights sold

  • Post category:News

Selling the rights to broadcast sports events to pay TV channels “doubles and even trebles” the proportion of the audience going to pubs to watch fixtures, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Dr Paul Rouse of University College Dublin also told the Oireachtas committee on communications that research shows a “significant proportion of parents who go to licensed premises to watch pay TV sports events also bring their children with them”.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan wants to designate key rugby matches as free-to-air for television, but the Irish Rugby Football Union has argued it could lose €10-€12 million per annum if this took place.

Dr Farrel Corcoran of Dublin City University, a former RTÉ chairman, suggested the financial impact on sporting bodies of keeping some sports events on free-to-air television had been exaggerated. “I’m not an economist of sports, let others speak up on this, but I’ve a strong suspicion it is being exaggerated,” he said.

Senator Jim Walsh said free-to-air was a desirable route to take if possible, “subject to it not undermining the game of rugby here”. However, Green Party chairman Senator Dan Boyle yesterday told the committee he had never accepted “the 12 million argument from the IRFU”.

Following yesterday’s committee hearing, the rugby organisation issued a statement reiterating its position. “A very real threat exists to the security and financing of the game at all levels if there is any change to the ability of the IRFU to negotiate on an unrestricted basis with broadcasters,” the statement said.


Source: The Irish Times, 23/09/10
Journalist: Mary Minihan