Alex White considers Six Nations free-to-air plan

Communications Minister Alex White has said there is a strong argument that the Six Nations should be designated free-to-air on TV ahead of an expected review going to Cabinet this week.

Alex White considers Six Nations free-to-air plan

The Coalition will consider adding the rugby championship to events that must be available for live broadcast after the tournament recently said it wanted to sell rights to satellite stations next year.

The development comes less than a fortnight after Ireland won its second Six Nations in a row.

“I think there is a case, if you look at the Six Nations,” said Mr White. “The question I have to ask is does it have a distinct cultural significance or importance for Irish people?

“Anybody who could see the success, including the success on television as a television event, with access for so many people to be able to see this great game. There’s a strong case for it.”

Mr White will take a memo to Cabinet this week about reviewing events covered under the Designation of Major Events Order 2003.

In addition to making the Six Nations free to air, Mr White wants to add the All-Ireland Camogie and Ladies Football finals to the list.

He will consult with sporting bodies, such as the Irish Rugby Football Union and GAA as well as broadcasters RTÉ, TV3, TG4, and UTV.

Sky Sports has secured the live rights to Ireland’s pre-Word Cup autumn games. Six Nations organisers have signalled they want the option to sell the rights to next year’s games.

Figures released after Ireland’s dramatic back- to-back Six Nations Championship wins show 852,380 people tuned in at 4.15pm in time to watch Jamie Heaslip’s saving tackle on Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg.

The average figures for the Irish match were 697,000, a 65% share of the available television audience, while the station’s audience reach (those who tune in for at least a minute) was 1.06m.

The England-France match had an average of 656,500 viewers for a 55% share with a reach of 1.3m.

READ MORE: Minister Alex White will not interfere with RTÉ

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