Events of Public Interest

The 2009 Act restates and updates the legislation in relation to major events television coverage. There is a provision for a triennial review of the legislation.

An event is an event of interest to the general public in the State or EU or a significant part of them, organised by an event organiser, entitled to sell broadcasting rights to the event.  Free television service is a service for the reception for which no charge is made, and which is available on a free-to-air basis.

A broadcaster who provides near-universal coverage of a designated event is deemed a qualifying broadcaster for the purpose of the legislation.   A broadcaster may request the Minister to resolve any dispute as to the extent of a free television service being provided by a broadcaster in the State for the purpose of the definition of “near-universal coverage”.

The legislation applies to designated events. The Minister may by order designate events as events of major importance to society for which the right of a qualifying broadcaster to provide coverage on free television services should be provided in the public interest, and determine whether coverage on free television services of a designated event should be made available on a live, deferred or both live and deferred basis, whole or in part.

Designating Events

The Minister shall have regard to all the circumstances including in particular,

  • the extent to which the event has a special general resonance for the people of Ireland,
  • the extent to which the event has a generally recognised distinct cultural importance for the people of Ireland.
  • In determining the extent to which the above criteria have been met, the Minister is to take account of
  • whether the event involves participation by a national or non-national team or by Irish persons;
  • past practice or experience with regard to television coverage of the event or similar events.

The Minister shall consider in his determination the nature of the event, the time within the State at which the event takes place and practical broadcasting considerations.  He shall consult the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism. Before making a designation order, the Minister shall make reasonable efforts to consult with the organisers of the event and with broadcasters who are under the jurisdiction of the State for the purpose of the Council Directive.

The Minister shall publish a notice of the event which he  intends to designate and  invite comments.  The inability to establish who is the organiser of the event or the failure of the organiser or a broadcaster to respond to a consultation invitation shall not preclude the making of a designation order.

Duties Regarding Designated Events

The legislation sets out the duties of a broadcaster in respect of events designated as being of major importance by an EU Member State.  A non-qualifying broadcaster shall not broadcast the event unless the event has been made available to a qualifying broadcaster, in accordance with the designation order concerned, on request and the payment of reasonable market rates by the qualifying broadcaster.

Where the qualifying broadcaster acquires the right to broadcast a designated event, the qualifying broadcaster shall broadcast the event on a free television service providing near-universal coverage in accordance with the designation order.


There is provision for the civil remedies when the designation is not complied with.  The agreed broadcaster shall be entitled to apply to the High Court for remedies against the broadcaster who breaches the above obligation.

An order may issue restraining the other broadcaster from carrying or attempting to carry out the prohibited conduct.  A declaration may be made that the contract under which the other broadcaster received exclusive rights to the designated event is void; the court may award damages from the other broadcaster; and direct that the right to provide television coverage shall be offered to the aggrieved broadcaster at reasonable rates.

If parties are unable to agree on what constitutes reasonable market rates with respect to television coverage of an event, either broadcasters may apply to the High Court in a summary manner for an order determining reasonable market rates for an event.  The order may make consequential or supplementary provisions as the High Court considers appropriate.

Setting Contract Terms

Where an event’s organiser has not within 56 days of the event taking place, entered into a contract with a qualifying broadcaster for broadcasting rights to a designated event, the qualifying broadcaster may apply to the High Court for an order directing that the event organiser provide access to the event subject to payment of reasonable market rates or such other terms as may be determined by the Court and upon such terms, as the Court considers just and proper.

It may direct an event organiser to give a qualifying broadcaster access to the designated event, before the High Court has fixed the terms for acquisition of broadcasting rights, including the fixing of reasonable market rates.

The Minister may in the public interest require an event organiser to provide the Minister with a copy of any agreement entered with any broadcaster in respect of the designated event.

Where an existing contract is in place between an event organiser and a non-qualifying broadcaster, the High Court shall on receipt of an application from a qualifying broadcaster, decide to whom and in what proportion moneys in respect of market rates be paid.

There is provision for arbitration agreements in respect of instances where the event organiser was willing to sell broadcasting rights to a designated event but has not been able to agree a price with a qualifying broadcaster for access to the event.  Provision is made for criteria, which the High Court or arbitrator must have regard to, when determining reasonable market rates or terms under the legislation.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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