Sinn Féin to demand that the BBC improve their coverage of the GAA
"It remains a source of huge frustration that the extent of BBC coverage does not reflect the popularity of the GAA."
Sinn Féin is calling on the BBC to take the necessary steps in order to provide its viewers with "enhanced coverage" of GAA fixtures.
In a statement issued by the party on Wednesday, Culture, Arts and Sports spokesperson Sinead Ellis MLA announced her plans to meet with the BBC's Head of Sport to discuss how best to improve the availability of GAA coverage.
“I have written to the BBC seeking discussions on this issue because it remains a source of huge frustration that the extent of BBC coverage does not reflect the popularity of the GAA," said Ellis, adding that the latter stages of the All-Ireland Championship "is beamed to millions around the world," but not broadcast by the BBC in Northern Ireland.
“I believe that is a huge disservice to the many Gaels and sporting fans who want to see such showpieces on terrestrial television," she said.
“And while we understand there are restrictions caused by the broadcasting deal with RTÉ and Sky TV," Ellis continued, "many people in the North do not have access to either of these stations, so more must be done to explore the options around live and deferred coverage and highlights programmes."
Ellis intends to ask the BBC to "exhaust" all options, and, if necessary, seek new talks with RTÉ and Sky, arguing that GAA deserves a greater profile and spotlight reflective of its popularity.
This isn't the first instance of the party criticising the BBC regarding their GAA coverage. In September,Sinn Féin National Chairman Declan Kearney took to Twitter on the day of the All-Ireland final to voice his displeasure:
— Declan Kearney (@DeclanKearneySF) September 17, 2017
In a response, a spokesman for BBC Northern Ireland said: "We don't have the rights to televise games in the qualifiers or All-Ireland stages, including the All-Ireland Final - whether there is an Ulster team playing or not.
"All the games in the Ulster Championship, broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland TV – live or deferred - can be viewed on the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service. We do not have the rights to show highlights on TV," he added.
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