7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Digital Terrestrial Television
29 Jun 2000 :
Sile de Valera, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, announced, that the Government have accepted her proposals for changes to the process of establishing a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform in Ireland.

The original Government proposals as reflected in the Broadcasting Bill, envisaged the sale of the RTE transmission business, and the creation of a single DTT entity (known as Digico) in which RTE would retain a significant minority stake.

Difficulties arose when it emerged that RTE wished to have the value of the network determined by the market rather than pre-determined by independent consultants. The advice available was that it would be impossible to meet RTE concerns in the context of establishing a single DTT entity.

The Minister has proposed an alternative approach that will result in the establishment of two separate entities. RTE will be required to sell its transmission business as a going concern. The entity thus created, in which RTE will be allowed to retain a stake of up to 28%, will be licensed to provide digital television transmission services as well as the existing analogue transmission business. The transmission company will provide services to broadcasters and possibly other telecommunications operators. It will also provide transmission services to the DTT multiplex operator who will be selected separately, in accordance with pre-determined criteria, by the Minister who will be advised by a Project Management Group made up of representatives of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and the Departments of Finance, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and Public Enterprise. The DTT multiplex operator will retail packages of television and other services to viewers in much the same way as cable television systems operate at present. Guaranteed access to space on the multiplexes for RTE, TG4 and TV3 will remain as envisaged in the original Government decision.

This decision will mean that the sections of the Broadcasting Bill 1999 dealing with the objectives, licensing and obligations of the single DTT entity envisaged in the Bill at present will have to be amended to allow for two companies providing the separate elements of DTT.

The Minister hopes that the Bill can be enacted before the end of the year, and the DTT services will become available during the course of 2001.

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