The Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan, has responded to a query from the Celtic League over the roll-out of all Ireland TV services agreed under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Irish and British governments.
The Minister makes it clear that whilst Irish services will be provided as part of the Digital Terrestrial Transmitter (DTT) service in Northern Ireland there has been no approach to facilitate BBC services on DTT sites in the 26 counties (viewers throughout Ireland can however access BBC services via Freesat).
Although the assurance on the carriage of RTE and TG4 services via Northern DTT facilities seem at face value positive our understanding (see DTG press release below) is that such services will only be available via a low power multiplex at three transmitter sites.
The Minister also gives an update on the all Ireland satellite service Ka-sat which would enable good quality transmission of all Irish TV services to reach the whole of Ireland.
“Roinn Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainni Nádúrtha
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Ofig an Aire
Office of the Minister
(Please quote reference numbers in all correspondence.)
Mr. JB Moffatt
Director of Information
11 Clely Rhen flee
Isle of Man
Dear Mr. Moffatt
I refer to your correspondence regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Digital Television with the UK Government.
This MoU commits both Governments to cooperate to help facilitate the widespread availability on the DTT platform of RTE in Northern Ireland and BBC in Ireland. In addition it provides for TG4 to be carried on the DTT platform in Northern
Ireland as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.
In relation to the BBC, there is no legislative requirement for that corporation’s services to be carried in Ireland, nor is there an obligation on the BBC to provide its services. The carriage of BBC in Ireland is primarily a matter for the BBC and, to date, the BBC has not indicated a desire to be carried on the RTE DTT multiplex.
My Department is currently working with the UK, RTE, TG4 and the owners of the transmission sites in Northern Ireland to agree arrangements for the carriage of RTE and TG4 in Northern Ireland on the digital platform. In relation to power levels at transmitter sites, the maximum permittable power levels are agreed between the Authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to ensure there is no interference to other sites.
Regarding Saorsat, I understand from RTE that the satellite is due to be launched at the end of December after which RTE will test the service.
I trust this clarifies the position for you.
Eamon Ryan, T.D.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources”
DTG Statement below:
“Digital TV Group (DTG) welcomes joint Ireland and UK statement on the availability of RTÉ and TG4 services on Freeview HD receivers in Northern Ireland
20 December 2010, London — The Digital TV Group (DTG), the industry association for digital television in the UK, has welcomed the joint UK and Ireland government statement on the transmission of RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) and TG4 (Teilifís na Gaeilge) services in Northern Ireland, which will see a new Irish multiplex carried in Northern Ireland using the technical standard at the core of the UK’s Freeview HD service.
The DTG has worked closely with the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Ofcom and the Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to ensure that the widespread availability of the Irish language television station TG4 in Northern Ireland continues post digital switchover. DTG representatives met with the Irish
Government on Friday to discuss the technical interoperability of the new multiplex. In addition to carrying TG4, this multiplex, which will be part of the UK digital terrestrial television (DTT) system, will carry RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2. It is hoped that this will further increase the coverage of these channels in Northern Ireland, enabling approximately 90% of the population in Northern Ireland to receive their services on a free-to-air basis, either through overspill or via the new multiplex. The DTG looks forward to working with Digital UK and Freeview to deliver clear consumer messaging to ensure that Northern Irish viewers understand that
integrated digital televisions, set-top boxes and digital television recorders carrying the Freeview HD logo will receive these services. The DTG will also work with all stakeholders to ensure the same receivers can receive overspill of Republic of Ireland services, which use the Nordig specification and MPEG 4. The DVB-T2 mode chosen for the new multiplex is QPSK rate 5/6, details of which are defined in the D-Book. DTG Testing, the industry’s interoperability test house, already tests that Freeview HD receivers functionally operate in this mode and the DTG RF Group has been asked to define performance parameters with a view to including these in future test requirements.
“The DTG welcomes this announcement and the strong progress that the UK and Irish Governments and regulators have made on delivering RTÉ and TG4 services to Northern Irish viewers,” said Richard Lindsay-Davies, Director General, Digital TV Group.
“The new multiplex will deliver additional services to 90% of the population in Northern Ireland on a free-to-air basis and as the multiplex will use an existing D-Book mode for functional testing, we are confident that all DTG tested Freeview HD products will work with this mode. We look forward to working closely with Digital UK, Freeview, Dmol and Intellect and CAI, the trade bodies
for consumer electronics and aerial installers, to ensure viewers in Northern Ireland make informed purchasing decisions and buy television equipment that we know will interoperate with cross-border signals.” The DTG will provide members with further technical interoperability information in early 2011.
In the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in April 1998, the UK Government undertook to explore the scope for achieving more widespread availability of the Irish language television station, Teilifis na Gaeilige (TG4) in Northern Ireland. The UK Government fulfilled this commitment by the construction of a new transmitter at Divis. This, combined with the analogue overspill signal from transmitters in Ireland, means that TG4 is currently available on a free-to-air basis to approximately 60% of the population in Northern Ireland.
Once the analogue signals in Northern Ireland and Ireland are switched off by the end of 2012, arrangements need to be put in place to enable TG4 to be received in a digital form. Following a broad range of technical work, the two Governments have now agreed that the most effective way to provide for the continuing provision of TG4 is by building a new, low power TV multiplex in Northern Ireland.”
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information