McCartney slams ‘historic neglect’ but BBC says it’s ‘committed’ to GAA coverage

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The BBC has said it’s committed to maximising its coverage of football, hurling, and camógie after Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney wrote to the broadcaster asking for a meeting to discuss, what he described, as “its historic neglect of Gaelic Games”.

The Foyle MLA complained: “Over the last few months we have raised the complete disparity in terms of BBC coverage of Gaelic Games compared to other sports.

“Sinn Féin has made recommendations to the BBC that they should be doing more to broadcast GAA on a par with its coverage of other sports. We have suggested the BBC broadcast regular highlights programmes, increases its live coverage of games on FM instead of MW and review its failures in bidding for more live TV games.”

A spokesperson for BBC NI said: “Discussions about our GAA coverage are ongoing with relevant stakeholders.

“We remain committed to maximising the range, impact and volume of BBC programming in this area and understand its importance to local audiences. Sports rights are highly competitive and much of what we are able to do depends on partnership agreements with other broadcasters.”

In late 2016 BBCNI entered a five-year agreement allowing it to broadcast live any Ulster Championship match selected for live broadcast by RTÉ, including the Ulster Final. In 2018, BBCNI showed two live games on BBC Two, a further two games live on the BBC iPlayer with fans also able to watch deferred coverage of the other four ties, in full, on BBC Two.

Mr. McCartney said: “Sinn Féin will be interested to hear how the BBC intends to address its historic neglect of Gaelic games both at club and county level.”