BBC and RTE to share public service digital platform in the Republic

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The agreement for full free- to- air reciprocity between the BBC and RTE after analogue switch-off in 2012 is thoroughly good news and is in the spirit of the GFA. Will it provide blanket coverage? I assume there will be fewer black spots than with analogue – that’s part of the point of digital. The Irish Times report is too grudging about TG4. I assume this will be greeted with a sigh of relief by the BBC, although it doesn’t release them from the public service obligation to continue developing Irish language programming. What I’m not clear about though, is how the digital agreement will affect RTE reception in the North. It would be ironic if non-BBC licence fee payers in the Republic received better access to the joint package than viewers in NI.

“(The Irish and British governments) it will facilitate the broadcast of TG4 on free-to-air DTT in Northern Ireland when the analogue signal is switched off in 2012. They must have been dancing in the streets of Belfast at that news…. “The memorandum commits the two governments to facilitating the widespread availability of RTÉ services in Northern Ireland and BBC services in Ireland on a free-to-air basis.”

Not so good news for the commerical sector delivering digital terrestrial television (DTT).

  • georgieleigh

    That’s DTT not DDT.

    Although the introduction of DDT to Ireland was, in many ways, a much more important event.

    Which of them proves the greatest help in getting a good night’s sleep is yet to be decided.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    I noted the detail of the memorandum here.

    “What I’m not clear about though, is how the digital agreement will affect RTE reception in the North.”

    If the digital platforms don’t include the RTÉ main channels then there’ll be no reception of them once the analogue signal is switched off.

    As the memorandum [pdf file] only commits to providing “The widespread availability on the DTT platform of TG4 in Northern Ireland.”

    And “That arrangements are made to facilitate the widespread availability on the DTT platforms of BBC services in Ireland and of RTE services in Northern Ireland.”

    That remains a possibility.

    But, as I also noted,

    Negotiations with a number of companies to provide the €100 million digital system in the Republic – which have run into some difficulties – are still continuing, “but come what may, we are switching in 2012″, Mr Ryan said.

  • O’Tuama

    So viewers in the Republic will get free to air BBC but viewer in the rest of the UK will not get free to air RTE. What a pity – it might educate the Btits about the island next door.

  • Brian Walker

    Yes Pete, Reciprocation is clear but it all depends what “widespead availability” means. How widespread? I presume as with Freeeview throughout the UK, a range of digi boxes will be available to viewers to access the channels on the new public service mutltiplex and that these will be tuned compatibly in both jurisdictions.

  • Gael gan Náire

    http://tinyurl.com/yl6nvtq

    Well David McNarry seems none too pleased.

    He really makes me want to vote for the new force! Not.

  • Mack

    Brian -

    It would be ironic if non-BBC licence fee payers in the Republic received better access to the joint package than viewers in NI.

    This I don’t get. They’re both licence fee payers – each paying to one of the respective partners – and should expect high quality service delivery. It isn’t ironic if one set of taxpayers recieve a poor service, it’s disgraceful!

  • http://igaeilge.wordpress.com Concubhar

    Poor David McNarry, the more he writes and speaks about the Irish language, the more he becomes the caricature of the Little Unionist who can’t – or won’t – see any accommodation of Irishness in his narrow vision of a British Northern Ireland. What he should realise of course is that the more he embraces the Irish language, the more like multi cultural Britain Northern Ireland becomes.

    It’s also worth mentioning that David McNarry’s own party, the Ulster Unionist Party, signed up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, almost 12 years ago now, which included the following commitment by the British Government.

    • explore urgently with the relevant British authorities, and in co-operation with the Irish broadcasting authorities, the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifis na Gaeilige in Northern Ireland;

    If it’s timing that’s worrying Mr McNarry, surely it should be what was the delay in implementing something which had been called for ‘urgently’ and to which his own party had signed up. Is he on message or not?

  • DerTer

    The basic Sky package available in NI already includes RTE 1 & 2 and TG4 (but not TV3). All that needs to happen to provide complete ‘free’ coverage is for the authorities in the Republic to permit (1) unscrambled access to these channels on FreeSat (which uses the same satellite) and (2) – since the capacity of Freeview free-to-air is very high – to allow transmission from all UK sites as Freeview is fully rolled out between now and 2012. Both these measures would cost very little to implement. Does anyone (except of course David McNarry) anticipate any political problems with this?

  • PJ Maybe

    Given that the UK broadcast uses the MPEG2 compression for DTT and ROI uses MPEG4 / H264.AVC there is going to be an inordinate amount of whinging and general bemusement about which compatible boxes will cover both. See this from 2008.

    http://www.siliconrepublic.com/news/article/11001/new-media/tvs-may-not-be-digital-ready

    The practical solution is for the RTE signal to be allocated space on one of the Freeview multiplexes. This neatly dodges the compatibility issues. Similarly for the BBC in ROI.

  • slug

    I hope that ITV1, ITV2, Channel4 etc will also be available south of the border, not just BBC.

  • st etienne

    The agreement for full free- to- air reciprocity between the BBC and RTE after analogue switch-off in 2012 is thoroughly good news and is in the spirit of the GFA.

    I’ve never come across an interaction between the British and Republic governments that wasn’t ‘in the spirit of the GFA’

  • Alias

    Hopefully RTE and TV4 will transmit plenty of traditional Irish dancing, fiddley-dee music, and covert political propaganda up there, thereby indoctrinating the natives with a subliminal love for all-things Irish. ;)

  • someone

    What is McNarry like?!

    I’m unionist, I’m planning to donate my vote to UCUNF at the general election, and I welcome a deal that gets RTE on my TV – wise up McNarry.

    To all the non-unionists – please note that the numpty politicians who call themselves unionists often don’t represent the common views of the ordinary unionist voter, whose interest in this lies in whether they have any decent programmes we haven’t seen yet :-) (I’m hoping this UCUNF idea works in getting some new, sensible faces on the scene)

  • willis

    “I assume there will be fewer black spots than with analogue – that’s part of the point of digital.”

    Certainly with a combination of Freeview and Freesat there should be fewer black spots, but Freeview is still a terrestrial transmission system so hills and water are still a problem

    http://www.ukfree.tv/txdetail.php?a=IJ287750

  • http://irishdigitaltvfan.wordpress,com seo

    There was a change to that MOU/press release….BBC in the ROI unlike RTÉ in the North will be on a paid-for basis. The mistake of FTA BBC in ROI was passed of as an error spotted between the press release and MOU.

  • http://pippakin-meiow.blogspot.com pippakin

    Its good and probably inevitable. Pity neither of them are the bees knees but you take what you can get.

    As for the Irish language the Brits will do what they always do and ignore it, which to be fair is what most Irish do…