In a development that has stirred controversy in the world of Gaelic sports, GAAGO, a joint venture between Ireland's national television and radio broadcaster RTÉ and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), has announced it will broadcast four Munster Hurling Championship games in 2024. This decision has been met with staunch criticism from notable figures in the sport, including former Cork hurler Donal Óg Cusack and former Mayo captain Alan Dillon.
GAA's Commercial Decision Draws Fire
Donal Óg Cusack, a former Cork goalkeeper, expressed his disappointment at the decision, describing it as a 'commercial decision' that neglects the sport and culture of hurling. He raised concerns about the paywall model GAAGO employs, arguing that it limits accessibility to the games and creates a barrier for fans. Cusack further questioned the role of the GAA and RTÉ in this decision and called for government intervention.
GAAGO's Paywall Undermines GAA's Ethos
Alan Dillon, former Mayo star and current Fine Gael TD, echoed Cusack’s criticisms. He contended that the paywall contradicts the GAA's ethos of accessibility and inclusivity. Dillon asserted that the games should be broadcast free-to-air to ensure they are available to the widest audience possible. This has highlighted a tension between commercial decisions and the traditional values of the GAA.
GAA President Defends GAAGO Platform
In response to the criticism, GAA president Larry McCarthy defended the platform's links with RTÉ and expressed hope for the platform's success in 2024. He also addressed concerns about accessibility and media rights. McCarthy described 'dodgy boxes', or illegal streaming, as the enemy of GAAGO and acknowledged the challenges they present. He emphasized the efforts made to combat piracy and ensure the legality of GAAGO's broadcasts.
In the wake of these criticisms, GAAGO has reiterated its commitment to maintaining similar pricing and broadcasting schedules as the previous year. The platform aims to strike a balance between free-to-air and pay-per-view games, while also considering the impact on rural areas with limited broadband access. As the controversy unfolds, the engagement with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) adds another layer of complexity to the issue.