Pay-per-view is a sound principle

THROUGHOUT the coverage of the FAI’s mini-scandalous deal with Sky, the association was at pains to point out that the deal wasn’t pay-per-view. At times they had interviewers apologising for using the pay-per-view phrase. Instead, they insisted, it was a subscription service.

The impression you get is that pay-per-view is something unclean, something distasteful. I can’t understand this. What’s wrong with pay-per-view?

The people who actually get off their butts to go and see a match have to ‘pay-per-view’. There is a cost involved in staging matches and someone has to pay.

The only reason that people weren’t charged before now is that the technology wasn’t up to it. That’s changed and going forward the technology is going to get better. This means that free-to-air stuff is going to get scarce.

Contrary to popular belief this is not a bad thing. Up to now the programmes that were commercially viable tended to be the ones that commanded a large audience. Obviously enough. But this didn’t mean the programmes were any good.

Often programmes were pitched at the lowest common denominator – the biggest audience that would tolerate a certain proportion of crap.

Choice was limited so a big viewership was guaranteed. People who liked Shakespearean drama had to put up with Coronation Street and Eastenders.

Now consider pay-per-view in a world with a million channels. Your Shakespearean aficionado can pay a fiver and watch an hour’s TV that he or she actually wants to watch.

Furthermore, they will be able to watch at a time they want to watch it.

And free-to-air TV isn’t free anyway. You and your children have to suffer and absorb all sorts of advertising. Having your mind colonised from an early age isn’t free.

In the future the TV market will be like the magazine market is now. A trip to Eason’s in O’Connell Street will show what a wonderful world that will be because there are magazines catering for every interest under the sun.

The age of the general TV channel is coming to an end. Every organisation will have their own TV channel using their websites. Then if you want to watch Tallaght playing Howth in badminton, you can pay your fiver online. Tallaght and Howth will get the proceeds. What’s wrong with that?

So I for one am looking forward to the age of pay-per-view where you can watch what you want and the proceeds go directly to the people providing the pictures, cutting out the middle man. Rupert Murdoch won’t like that.

As Well As That. . .

Why the FAI were wrong

IN CASE the following might make you think that I believed the FAI made the right decision, I want to say the FAI were totally in the wrong.

The reason is simple. Last year the Government agreed a programme with the FAI worth some €170m over 10 years in order to get them to throw in their lot with the BertieBowl.

That’s some €17m a year from the taxpayers. The FAI will now get €1.5m a year extra from Sky.

So the 80 per cent of taxpayers who actually bankroll the FAI have been shafted.

It’s simple really. If we are paying for it then we should get to see it (of course, Bertie was so impatient to get his Bowl going that he forgot to include this in the agreement. Bit of an oversight, that.)

Who owns ‘Ireland’ anyway?

THE FAI operates as an autonomous body and rightly so. But who decides who should be called Ireland?

After all, any organisation can call themselves Ireland and go abroad to represent us in tiddlywinks or something.

Surely this is another reason that the FAI is not simply a commercial organisation. I understand that the harp is a reserved symbol for the State and that only the State can use it. (Apparently this doesn’t apply to Guinness because they were in existence before the State.)

Anyway, the point is: if some organisation is going to style themselves ‘Ireland’ then we should have some small say in the matter.