Sky News to be added to free-to-air TV platform Saorview next week

Long-running news channel available through RTÉ-owned service from Tuesday

Sky News will launch on the Saorview television platform next Tuesday, the Comcast-owned broadcaster has announced, becoming the 12th television channel to join the free-to-air service.

The 24-hour news channel, founded in 1989, will be available on Saorview channel 23 from November 30th.

Saorview, owned and managed by RTÉ and operated by its transmission subsidiary 2rn, is currently home to RTÉ One HD, RTÉ2 HD, Virgin Media One, TG4, Virgin Media Two, Virgin Media Three, RTÉjr, RTÉ One +1, RTÉ2 +1, RTÉ News and Oireachtas TV.

The digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform has been in existence since 2011, when it was launched ahead of the switching off of analogue television transmissions in October 2012.


About 12 per cent of households with television sets – or 199,000 homes – use Irish DTT as their only traditional reception type and do not pay for cable or satellite services, according to the most recent figures from research firm Nielsen.

Sky Ireland chief executive JD Buckley said Sky News regularly covered issues that matter to Irish viewers.

"We have production teams and correspondents based out of Dublin and Belfast, who contribute to the Sky News service every day, so we are delighted that our channel is being made free-to-air in Ireland."

When Sky – which previously counted Rupert Murdoch’s former company 21st Century Fox as its largest shareholder – was acquired by US telecoms giant Comcast in 2018, Comcast agreed to guarantee to fund Sky News for 10 years and establish an editorial board to protect its independence.

Programming on the service, which employs more than 500 journalists around the world and is headed by John Ryley, includes the Kay Burley breakfast slot, the business-themed Ian King Live and the Daily Climate Show, hosted by Anna Jones. Its long-serving presenter and former political editor Adam Boulton recently announced he is to leave the channel at the end of the year.

Global news

"The launch of Sky News on Saorview will offer our audience a new source of local and global news from a popular and well-recognised international news channel," said Saorview brand compliance and business development manager Jim Higgins.

Sky News will automatically appear on most Saorview-approved set-top boxes and television sets. However, some users may have to rescan their set-top box or TV to receive it.

The channel will be carried on Saorview in a high-res standard definition (SD) rather than high-definition (HD), Sky said.

Tariffs on Saorview are set on the basis of capacity used as a percentage of the total cost base for the service, meaning HD channels pay more to be carried on it than SD ones.

Over the past decade, broadcasters such as Virgin Media Television – which has opted not to put HD versions of its channels on the service – have criticised Saorview’s transmission tariffs for being too high and suggested this has stymied its development.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics