The national launch of Saorview, RTÉs free to air DTT service, took place today, May 26th and was attended by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte. The launch of Saorview forms an integral part of Ireland’s national digital switchover strategy which provides for the ultimate closure of the analogue TV network at the end of 2012.
At the launch the Minister commented that; “With the national launch of Saorview today, Ireland at last enters the era of national free to air digital broadcasting! This will bring new opportunities to our Irish broadcasters ensuring that they continue to compete with their European counterparts and will also benefit TV viewers by offering a wider array of TV channels, programme guides, information channels and some high definition content.” The new service will feature nine channels; RTÉ One, RTÉ Two HD, TV3, TG4, RTÉ News Now, 3e, RTÉjr, RTÉ One + 1 and RTÉ Digital Aertel.
At an expected cost of €70 million, RTÉ and RTÉ Networks Limited (RTÉNL) have been building and rolling out the new digital terrestrial television network. This digital network will replace the current analogue network which is nearing obsolescence. Minister Rabbitte commented on the work remaining to be carried out for the switchover to take place, saying: “The recent research commissioned by my Department shows that at least a quarter of a million Irish households are reliant on the analogue service and with the national launch these households have 18 months to move to digital TV before the analogue TV network is switched off.
”Whilst I, and my officials will work to ensure that information and assistance is available to all Irish households, I would like to take this opportunity to call on industry stakeholders to work together during this period to provide for easy to use and accessible digital TV equipment and services so that the transition to digital is straightforward and affordable.”
As it stands Saorview is available to approximately 97% of the population from 51 DTT enabled sites around the country. The scheme’s website, www.saorview.ie has a coverage map where people can check if they are covered by Saorview.
A complete guide to Saorview and an interview with RTÉ’s Director of Digital Switchover, Mary Curtis is available here.