Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Question 402: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason the Saorview service which is imposing additional charges on householders is necessary; if householders will be allowed to retain their existing satisfactory service; and if not, the reason therefore. [8126/12]
Broadcasting services which use the radio spectrum are planned at an international level. This is to avoid broadcast services in the different countries interfering with each other. The move from analogue to digital broadcasting is no exception and the planning for this has taken place on a world wide scale.
In Geneva in 2006 a conference was held between the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa to finalise and agree a plan to move from analogue TV to digital TV. The agreement was signed by over 140 countries including Ireland. The deadline for full implementation of this plan is 2015.
The European Commission Recommendation 2009/848/EC of 28 October 2009, recommends that Member States cease usage of their analogue television networks by the end of 2012. Most EU countries, including Ireland, have committed to meeting this deadline and, as a result, the date for analogue switch off in Ireland has been set as 24 October 2012.
The digital Saorview service has been developed by RTÉ as the replacement ‘free-to-air’ television. The service is currently available to 97% of television households and will be available to 98% of television households on the date of Analogue Switch-off. The remaining 2% of television households will be able to access ‘free-to-air’ television by way of the satellite-based Saorsat service which RTÉ has developed on its own initiative and is expecting to launch in the coming months.