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

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).