BBC on Saorview a commercial matter

Published Categorized as Uncategorized


Dail Eireann

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the date on which the RTÉ Network Limited will begin transmission of UK public service broadcasts on the SaorView system to complete the reciprocation as envisaged in the MoU (details supplied)..

– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 11th October, 2012.

October 24th is Digital Switch off day in Ireland South & North, As of that date RTE One & RTE Two & TG4 will begin transmission in HD format on the UK Digital Terrestrial Television FreeView system. This is facilitated by the MoU on cross border sharing of TV signals in accordance with the GFA.

Ref No:   43721/12


Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. P. Rabbitte)

The Broadcasting Act 2009 provides for RTÉ and TG4 to provide their broadcast services, in as far as possible, throughout the whole island of Ireland.

In developing plans for the development of digital television in Ireland, my predecessor was cognisant that the UK was also upgrading their television services to digital.  Digital is more efficient than analogue TV.  It is capable of carrying many more TV channels.  In this regard and in order to provide for a coordinated approach to analogue switch off on both sides of the border relevant officials entered into discussions with their UK counterparts.

As a result of these discussions, a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) was signed jointly by the UK and Irish Governments on 1st February 2010.  A copy of the MOU is available at

  The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding is:

1.        To provide a mechanism for co-operation between the Governments of Ireland and UK in providing a framework for the transition to digital terrestrial television and analogue switch off.  

2.        To provide for TG4 to be carried in Northern Ireland on the digital TV network;

3.        To provide an opportunity for RTÉ to be transmitted within Northern Ireland and for BBC to be transmitted in Ireland.

In relation to TG4, the MOU draws on the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 and the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement which provided for the availability of TG4 throughout Northern Ireland over the analogue network.  The MOU extends this provision and secures the carriage of TG4 on the digital network in Northern Ireland.  

In relation to RTÉ, the MOU commits both Governments to seeking to find a technical and cost effective solution to the provision of RTÉ throughout Northern Ireland.

Since the MOU was signed, relevant Irish and UK officials and representatives from TG4 and RTÉ, have continued to meet and to work together to provide for the full implementation of the MOU.  This work has led to an agreement on the provision of TG4, RTÉ and Raidio na Gaeltachta on a special multiplex in Northern Ireland and the establishment of a company owned jointly by RTÉ and TG4 to operate this multiplex.  This new multiplex, which will begin operation on 24th October 2012- the date of Digital Switchover, provides 75% coverage within Northern Ireland.  When the coverage is combined with overspill of the Irish TV channels from Ireland, Northern Ireland will have 94% coverage of these Irish TV channels.  This is the first time in the history of broadcasting that RTÉ and TG4 will be available throughout the island of Ireland.

On the issue of BBC coverage within Ireland, this is a commercial matter for the BBC as, unlike RTÉ, the BBC has no mandate to provide coverage within Ireland.  In this regard, my understanding is that, to date, the BBC has expressed no interest in being carried on SAORVIEW.  Notwithstanding, BBC programming is freely available throughout Ireland over satellite and is also available in border areas via terrestrial TV overspill from the UK and Northern Ireland.  Additionally, BBC is available on pay TV platforms in Ireland.

If the UK channels have no issue being spilled over on analogue for 56 years, and 9 years spill over in FTA digial sat. And are on pay services here, the MoU is in place and the transponder space is there on Saorview, then the commerial advantage is more to UPC and Sky in keeping BBC off Irish DTT. just as RTE encrypted on Sky is to their advantage and not an advantage to the remit of RTE International ever happening.

World turned upside down.