RTÉ criticised for Saorview fees

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has criticised the proposed fees charged by RTÉ to allow channels of other stations to be broadcast on its free digital TV service Saorview.

The BAI expressed concern that the prospect of any new channels being made available could be impacted by the proposed cost structure charged by the state broadcaster.

The BAI claims RTÉ‚s transmission costs of up to €1 million per annum mean the situation is “unsustainable” for other service providers.

As a result, the BAI said it believed it was unlikely that any services other than new RTÉ stations would be carried on a second DTT (digital terrestrial television) multiplex.

The first Saorview multiplex, which was launched earlier this year, transmits RTÉ1, RTÉ2, TV3, TG4 and 3e as well as new stations RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr and RTÉ 1+1. The BAI suggests that Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte should use his powers under the Broadcasting Act to designate the payments which should be made by other TV providers to RTÉ.

RTÉ‚s proposed transmission costs were also blamed for the failure of the BAI to find any broadcaster willing to take up a licence to operate a commercial DTT multiplex over the past two years.

The BAI said it had received expressions of interest for 11 TV stations and three radio channels to be carried on the RTÉ DTT multiplexes. However, the BAI said none of the channels were likely to be ready until near October 2012, the proposed date for the switch-off of analogue signals.

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