DUP man: Nationalists ‘going for gold in complaining’ over RTE Olympic coverage

A DUP MLA has accused nationalists of “manufacturing grievances” after both Sinn Fein and the SDLP issued statements voicing anger over the blocking of RTE’s Olympics coverage.

By Adam Kula
Friday, 30th July 2021, 3:59 pm
Updated Friday, 30th July 2021, 4:05 pm
The Tokyo Olympics
The Tokyo Olympics

Residents of Northern Ireland do not have access to the Irish state broadcaster’s Tokyo games footage, and must get their coverage from the BBC.

The arrangement is known as “geoblocking” – where a broadcaster basically places strict borders on where their signals can be received.

The SDLP dubbed the situation “ridiculous” and Sinn Fein called it “unfair and unacceptable”.

For its part RTE said that the International Olympics Committee are the rights owners for coverage of the gams, “and make all decisions about how rights are allocated across the different territories”, leaving RTE with “no control”.

Likewise, the BBC said it “does not have the rights for the Republic of Ireland”.

Gary Middleton, MLA for the border constituency of Foyle, said: “This isn’t the first time that Sinn Fein and the SDLP have demonstrated their ignorance around sports broadcasting.

“Sporting bodies, including the GAA have signed commercial contracts which respect national borders, including between the UK and Ireland.

“Whilst the rest of us are cheering on our athletes in Tokyo it seems a few people are more interested in competing for a gold medal in manufacturing grievances.”

There are however some online guides which give ways to get around geoblocking, especially if someone is using a tablet or phone, and has VPN software installed.

VPNs basically re-route the signals from a phone or a computer, hiding your true identity and location by routing it through a bank of computers somewhere else in the world.

Sometimes that software will let the users choose which country they want their VPN to use, and if you are a UK user who selects servers in the Republic of Ireland, it can unblock at least some of the Olympics coverage (though there is no guarantee that all the footage will be accessible).

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