Friday, 8 August 2008

RTÉ in Northern Ireland

Under The Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007, the Republic’s state broadcasting network, RTÉ is required to replace their obsolete analogue terrestrial platform with a new DTT (digital terrestrial television) platform with the same coverage as the current analogue network and which can accommodate the RTÉ channels, TG4 and TV3.

Some in Northern Ireland are stoking fears that RTÉ’s switchover from analogue to DTT will see northern viewers deprived of RTÉ. The Irish News' editorial this week wrongly implies that the new service will be via subscription. However, it is highly likely that the new service will be available to viewers in most of NI. That said, the Republic is using the latest digital television technology – MPEG 4 and it is possible that rather than having two aerials, as many people do at present, it may be necessary to have two digital boxes.

Given that RTÉ rarely reaches 5 per cent of audience share in NI (compared to 15 per cent plus share that UK TV stations achieve in the Republic), it is possible that many people will opt not buy an additional box. RTÉ and TG4 are already available in Northern Ireland via satellite.

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