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A South Down MLA has called on RTÉ to end the geo-blocking of sports coverage for Northern Ireland viewers.

Irish Medal hopeful Rhys McClenaghan does his stuff on the Pommel Horse.
Irish Medal hopeful Rhys McClenaghan does his stuff on the Pommel Horse.

MLA Sinead Ennis said it was “entirely unacceptable” that northern viewers were continuously blocked from viewing live sports and other programmes by southern broadcasters.

Northern Ireland residents have repeatedly complained of problems accessing sporting programmes on RTÉ  because they are treated as ‘international’ viewers.

Ms Ennis said it was “unfair” on residents in the north who wanted to support those competing from the island.

She said: “Sinn Féin have raised this issue time and time again, and have met with RTÉ on this in the past.

“This is unfair on the citizens living in the north of Ireland who deserve to be allowed to watch the Olympics and support those competing from here.

“The Olympic committee must look into this and reverse this decision for future Olympic events.

“Sinn Féin are committed to ensuring a fair, equal and unhindered access to important national, sporting events and competitions associated with them.”

However, RTÉ said it requires a residents to have an address in the Republic because they only had the rights to distributed the Olympic games south of the border.

A spokesperson said: “RTÉ only has rights to broadcast Olympics coverage in the Republic of Ireland and is contractually obliged to block its signal in Northern Ireland for all Olympics coverage.

“The International Olympics Committee, who are the rights owners, have included Northern Ireland as part of UK broadcast territory for Olympics coverage and as such the rights holders for NI are BBC and Discovery.”

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