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RTE denies blocking Northern Ireland viewers from watching Tokyo 2020 coverage

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Ireland's Hannah McLoughlin scores on Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag during a women's field hockey match at Tokyo 2020. Pic: AP Photo/John Minchillo.

Ireland's Hannah McLoughlin scores on Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag during a women's field hockey match at Tokyo 2020. Pic: AP Photo/John Minchillo.

AP

Ireland's Hannah McLoughlin scores on Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag during a women's field hockey match at Tokyo 2020. Pic: AP Photo/John Minchillo.

RTE has said it only has the rights to broadcast the Olympic Games in the Republic of Ireland after claims the Irish broadcaster was geo-blocking viewers in Northern Ireland.

BBC hold the rights to air a maximum of two live events at one time, through one television channel and a second feed provided through the red button service and online.

However, viewers wishing to watch the live events at the games on southern broadcasters have been unable from doing so.

As many athletes from this side of the border compete for Ireland, RTE often gives greater coverage than the BBC.

Sinn Fein MLA Sinead Ennis said it was “entirely unacceptable” that viewers in Northern Ireland have been blocked from viewing live sports and other programmes by southern broadcasters.

In response to a “number of inaccurate and misleading claims”, RTE said it has the rights to broadcast Tokyo 2020 in the Republic of Ireland only.

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“The International Olympics Committee (IOC), who are the rights owners for Olympics Games coverage and make all decisions about how rights are allocated across the different territories, have included Northern Ireland as part of UK broadcast territory for Olympics coverage,” the broadcaster explained.

“As such, the rights holders for Northern Ireland are BBC and Discovery (on Eurosport).

“RTE has no control over IOC decisions in this regard.”

The IOC sold the majority of UK television rights to pay-TV company Discovery.

Olympic organisers sold the European rights for the games to the US company in a £920m deal.

Discovery has now put the vast majority of its coverage behind a paywall, which can only be accessed through their Eurosport channels or on the new £6.99-a-month streaming service Discovery+.

The current deal with the BBC was announced in 2016 and Tokyo 2020 is the first Olympic Games where it has came into affect.


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