Saorview yet to vote for Oireachtas TV

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett says carriage on the platform should be free-of-charge

“We’re open to any partners who want to join us,” the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Seán Barrett, said in his remarks.   Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

“We’re open to any partners who want to join us,” the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Seán Barrett, said in his remarks. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Representatives of UPC, Sky and Eircom were all present at the formal launch of Oireachtas TV, the dedicated television channel of the Houses of the Oireachtas, on Monday, but there was one television platform missing: Saorview.

“We’re open to any partners who want to join us,” the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Seán Barrett, said in his remarks. “They’re very welcome.”

But while the Oireachtas would like the platform not to charge it for carrying the channel, Saorview (operated by RTÉ subsidiary 2RN)has apparently yet to come round to that view.

“The negotiations are taking place and it’s down the level of contribution,” Barrett said. “I would expect that they would carry us free of charge. We’re talking about taxpayers’ money here.”

Both UPC, which was the original platform to back the channel, and Eircom, which will begin transmitting the channel shortly, carry it free of charge, while the Oireachtas pays a discounted fee to BSkyB for its set-up costs for satellite carriage.

Otherwise, Barrett was in a buoyant mood and seemed to be looking forward to this enhanced “promotion of democracy”, in particular the additional exposure that may come the way of Oireachtas committees.

As there is often a clash in the schedule, editorial meetings take place in the Oireachtas broadcasting unit the week before to decide which committee hearing merits being broadcast (they’re all online anyway, of course). “We have set up a small editorial board,” says Barrett, “and we don’t interfere.”