Head in the bunker

The (Irish) Government has decided, after going to the trouble of a consultation process, that no changes will be made to the list of sporting events designated for free-to-air broadcasting under Television Without Frontiers. A silly decision (and one regretted by golf fans, due to the Ryder Cup controversy, although I believe that golf itself is silly), but more importantly, some idiotic reasoning:

“In considering the proposal to designate the Ryder Cup it was clear to the Government that it met some of the criteria but not all. The Government was also mindful of the fact that it was decided not to designate it as “free to air” at the time of the first designation of events in 2003. This would have created a reasonable expectation that it would remain outside of the remit of ‘free to air’ for 2006,” continued Minister Dempsey (emphasis added).

Right. So, you pass a law (years late) with an explicit provision to allow changes. And then you say that there is a reasonable expectation that it will not be changed. And that expectation extends to three years after the enactment of the law.

Riiiiight.

There’s one thing that I can reasonably expect, with some confidence. And that’s that this Department has taken the ‘marine’ part of its brief to heart, and transformed itself into an amoeba (Wikipedia / Britannica references 😉 ), without shape, form or spine. Why bother reserving the power to modify, if you haven’t got the guts to do so?

Just entirely coincidentally, here’s what Sky told the Department in the consultation process (in public; God knows what they said in private, although perhaps the FOI Act will help):

As a long-term investor in Ireland, Sky believes that the reputation of the country as an open, well-run, business-friendly society would be harmed by the interference with established contractual rights that retrospective designation would involve. Whilst Sky considers that of the 2006 Ryder Cup designation should be recognised as inappropriate, it reserves the right to take all actions necessary to protect its property rights and its legitimate business interests.

Whose interests do you have at heart, Minister?

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