Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 20 February, 1997

Written Answers. - Television Reception.

73. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if he is ready to nominate those national sporting events he believes should be preserved from possible satellite television monopolisation in order to guarantee wider television coverage in line with recommendations by the EU. [4820/97]

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): I have brought my proposals to Government in relation to new broadcasting legislation and I hope it will consider them shortly. I propose to publish my proposals following Government approval. As well as other important issues these proposals will deal with the future television coverage of major sporting events on terrestrial stations.

The Deputy should also be aware that during the second reading of the European Commission's proposals for the revision of the “Television without Frontiers” directive last November, the European Parliament unanimously adopted an amendment which aims to ensure that the viewing public may continue to have access to major events, sports, live without the viewer having to pay additional fees for viewing. The Council of Ministers for Culture and Audiovisual Matters which was held in Brussels on 16 December 1996 took note of the parliament's amendment and endorsed the objectives in principle.

The European Commission recently adopted a position which focuses on the exercise, not the acquisition, of exclusive rights with a view to safeguarding the public's right of access to the transmission of events of major importance to society. The Commission indicated that it would promote this approach in negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

This matter is still under discussion at European level under the Dutch Presidency and Ireland has continued to strongly support the position of the European Parliament and the Commission in relation to this matter.