Setanta Ireland, with the financial backing of Allianz Ireland, has secured the rights and will run up to 10 hours coverage a day for the entire 12 days, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
Coverage on satellite channel Setanta Ireland will be unencrypted and thus available on freeview to Sky subscribers. The channel is already free on UPC and, with the Setanta player available in all eircom broadband homes, 1.3m households will have access to the transmission.
“This is dreamland stuff,” said Paralympics Ireland chief executive Liam Harbison. “It is the biggest announcement ever for us in Paralympics Ireland. What this means is that Ireland will be in the top 10 countries in the world, regardless of size, in terms of hours of coverage of the Games.”
RTÉ have previously aired highlights packages from the Games in Athens and Beijing and discussions between Paralympics Ireland and, though it has yet to be signed off, all the indications are the national broadcaster will be on hand in London to fill a similar brief.
The Paralympics begin on August 29, just over two weeks after the Olympics end. Ireland’s stated goal, as laid down by the Beijing Review from 2009, is to claim five medals, three of them gold, and Harbison is confident that the end result could be even better.
Ireland currently has 15 athletes ranked in the top eight in their sports and, having finished 36th in the medal table in 2008, the goal now is to break the top 30. To put that in perspective, Ireland finished 61st in the Olympic standings after what was a hugely successful haul in 2008.