McCartney launches BBC GAA petition

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The BBC has said its committed to maximising its GAA coverage after Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney launched a Sinn Féin petition urging it to show more Gaelic Games including a Club Championship highlights programme.

However, a spokesperson for BBCNI cautioned that the field of sports rights was a “highly competitive and complex” area and that it had a responsibility to ensure “value for money” and a broad range of output.

“Discussions about our GAA coverage are ongoing with relevant stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand its importance to local audiences and we remain committed to maximising the range, impact and volume of BBC programming in this area across our different platforms,” they added.

Mr. McCartney said the BBC needed to end what he branded its “historic neglect of Gaelic Games”.

He said: “I’m disappointed that there has been no significant progress or investment made by the BBC to extend their coverage of GAA. This issue is gaining traction among GAA fans who are rightly angry and frustrated at the BBC’s lack of coverage of the largest spectator sport in the North.

“The GAA has over 250,000 members who simply want parity and equality from the broadcaster that we pay our licence fee to and this must be reflected in their coverage. I’m calling on Gaels across Ulster to sign the petition and join the campaign to ensure the BBC begin to show fair play for Ulster Gaels. Sign the petition: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/bbc-end-the-historic-neglect-of-gaelic-games.”

The BBC said: “Sport rights are highly competitive and complex. And each situation is different. The coverage rights that we are able to secure can depend on a number of factors, including funding constraints, partnership agreements with other broadcasters and the rights that are actually available. Value for money is a fundamental consideration in all of this, taking account of our responsibility to provide a broad mix of output.”