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Tuesday 6 December 2016

RTE is 'optimistic' about airing Olympics despite exclusive deal

Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.

RTE is "optimistic" it can secure the rights for the summer Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024 despite yesterday's announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that US broadcaster Discovery, parent of Eurosport, had signed a €1.3bn exclusive pan-European deal for rights to all summer and winter Olympic Games from 2018.

The deal will have a direct impact on all national broadcasters in Europe, bar Russia.

However, Discovery will sub-license some of the Olympic coverage to European markets.

In Ireland, under the Broadcasting Act 2009, the summer Olympics are listed as a Designated Major Event which must be shown free-to-air.

RTE, who previously secured the rights to all Olympics Games through the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), is "hopeful" Discovery will give them the opportunity to sub- license the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

READ MORE: RTE loses right to the Olympic Games

"RTE remains optimistic that a solution can be found," a spokesperson for the station said.

"RTE will make every effort to secure the rights for the summer Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024 so Irish viewers can watch home-produced, relevant coverage of Irish athletes competing both in Tokyo in 2020 and at the 2024 summer games."

The spokesperson added "home-produced coverage" is something that would be sorely lost "in the event of pan-European coverage."

events

Rival station TV3 have also expressed an interest in transmitting some of the summer Olympics.

"We would absolutely be interested in sub-licensing some of these events," a TV3 spokesperson said.

"This Pan-European deal with Eurosport arguably makes it easier for TV3 to sub-license events."

The possibility of losing the rights to air any of the Olympic Games would come as a blow to RTE's sport department.

In recent years, RTE has lost the rights to several major sporting events. In 2013, the state broadcaster lost the rights to the Premiere League and withdrew its bid for The Pro 12.

Last year, the broadcaster lost the rights for the 2015 Rugby World Cup to TV3.

Speaking at the time, RTE managing director Glen Killane said: "It's a very competitive environment ... but we are facing harder competition from international competitors with far deeper pockets."

Minister of State Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, described the potential loss of all Olympic coverage on RTE as "very disappointing".

"RTE cannot compete with budgets on that scale," he said.

"It's very disappointing and ultimately sports fans will lose out. In the long run, sports will be the loser."

Former sports pundit George Hook described Discoverys aquisition of the Olympics as the "nail in the coffin of sports".

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