Digital TV rises back up off the canvas


STAND by your remote controls, digital terrestrial television (DTT) might, after all, be coming to a TV set near you.

Couch potatoes will recall that Denis O’Brien’s Boxer consortium last year landed a decisive blow when it won the fight for the commercial DTT licence offered by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).

In April, O’Brien pulled the plug on his DTT service when the Celtic Tiger was pronounced dead, deciding that it wasn’t worth a €26 million-plus investment in branding and set-top boxes.

The BCI then turned to standby candidate OneVision – comprising Éircom, TV3, Setanta and specialist British DTT operator Arqiva. When Setanta hit the skids recently, OneVision seemed doomed.

But I’m told that the consortium is set to come up trumps, with an announcement about its plans likely in September.

Talks with the BCI are said to be progressing well while negotiations with RTÉ on piggybacking on its transmission network are believed to be well in hand.

RTÉ, don’t forget, has been charged with running the terrestrial DTT multiplex and co-operation between the two is vital if digital terrestrial television is to be a hit with consumers.

With the economy having taken a decisive turn for the worse since the BCI held its original beauty contest last year, OneVision has no doubt tweaked its original business plan.

OneVision originally planned a €30 million launch budget and planned to charge €50 for the boxes.

We await details of the final offering and a date for switch on.

Hopefully, it will be sooner than the 2015 EU deadline for the switch off of analogue.

Whenever it’s turned on, OneVision should spice up competition in a lucrative market dominated by satellite operator Sky and cable group Chorus/NTL.