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Simon Harris: ‘GAAGO has gotten it wrong with the decision to place games behind a paywall | The Irish Post

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Taoiseach Simon Harris believes that GAAGO is doing a disservice to many around Ireland by not showing certain games on terrestrial TV.

The subscription service, which has a partnership with Irish state broadcaster RTÉ, came under fire last year for its lack of games being broadcast on different weekends. The pay-per-view model has upset many hardcore fans of Gaelic games.

This weekend will see the Munster Senior Hurling Championship take place. Cork will play reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick, and it will only be exclusively aired on the GAAGO subscription service.

For the second consecutive week, RTÉ is bound by contract to broadcast the two provincial football finals on Sunday.

Former Cork keeper Donal Óg Cusack, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the subscription service, once again questioned the decision by GAAGO to promote the Tailteann Cup, a second-tier football competition, over the likes of the Joe McDonagh or Christy Ring Cup matches this weekend.

Simon Harris has echoed a similar sentiment as the Cork native.

“The GAA is an incredible organisation, and tomorrow tens of thousands of youngsters right across Ireland will go out and they’ll kick a ball, they’ll take a hurl, they’ll play camogie, they’ll play hurling, and they’ll play football,” said the Taoiseach, speaking in Cork.

“It has always been a grassroots organisation and I think the grassroots are really, really, really angry, really disappointed and really frustrated that matches that the kids want to watch and that the family wants to watch are being put behind a paywall.”

Harris is also of the belief that the GAA needs to listen to its core base of hard-core Gaelic fans.

“The GAA really needs to revisit this; they really need to listen to their grassroots members.

“That’s always been their strength, and I think they’ve gotten this wrong. I think they need to reflect. My colleague, Senator Tim Lombart, has asked that the GAA come into the Oireachtas; I think that’s entirely appropriate, and that they tease through and discuss this issue.”

Tánaiste Michael Martin also had his say on his colleague and Donal Og’s views. He believes GAAGO is restricting the promotion of one of Ireland’s most beloved sports.

“I’ve got huge concerns about it; I don’t understand it, in terms of the promotion of the game of hurling,” he told RTÉ News.

“Essentially, the GAAGO concept is restricting great hurling in terms of the audience, and it’s by definition limiting the numbers that actually watch it, whether one wants to accept that or not.”

Martin also believes that RTÉ and the GAA should rework their initial agreement.

“That’s why I think RTÉ and the GAA need to go back to the drawing board on this. One cannot look at this through an exclusively commercial prism. In terms of the promotion of a unique game of hurling, which is characteristic of the nation and so on, it’s very, very important that we reach as wide an audience as possible,” he added.

“For RTÉ, it seems to contradict its public service mandate in terms of big games of hurling and indeed Gaelic football as well, RTÉ, if you like, being a part of putting it behind a paywall. I think it would be far better for RTÉ to have some of these very high-profile great games on RTÉ.”

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