RTÉ threatens to injunct UPC over on-the-go service

UPC’s Go to allow streaming TV channels to portable devices outside the home

RTÉ and UPC Ireland are locked in high-level talks to resolve a legal row over plans by the cable operator for a new on-the-go smartphone and tablet streaming service.

UPC this week revealed plans to offer Horizon Go across its European operations. The national broadcaster is seeking a High Court injunction that would affect UPC's launch of the "television anywhere" service in Ireland.

The Go product allows subscribers of its Horizon service to stream television channels to portable devices outside the home, using a wifi connection or a high-speed mobile network.

This would effectively turn customers’ iPhones and iPads into portable televisions using their home UPC subscription.


RTÉ has become involved in a financial dispute with the cable company over a plan to include the national broadcaster’s stations in an out-of-home Go service. It is seeking improved payments from UPC for its content rights.

UPC Ireland already offers a streaming product called Horizon Go, which includes RTÉ’s channels, although it is restricted to phones and tablets within the home. It doesn’t work when the customer leaves the house.

Case adjourned

RTÉ issued injunction proceedings against UPC in the High Court last Tuesday.

Written evidence was supplied by senior executives including Conor Mullen, commercial director of RTÉ Digital; Jonathan Lundberg, head of IT infrastructure; and Dermot Horan, director of productions and acquisitions.

The case was adjourned and both sides agreed to talks to try and resolve the dispute. RTÉ said last night it could not comment for legal reasons.

UPC said it had “no comment on these potential proceedings as they relate to a commercial matter”. UPC is understood to have already held discussions with some other broadcasters about whether to include their content in its Go service.

RTÉ is also in talks with Eircom over its possible participation in a mooted out-of-home streaming service for eVision, Eircom's television offering.

Eircom offering

The company is expected to launch some form of on-the-go service by the end of the year, although it is yet to be decided what channels will feature. “We are talking to RTÉ and other broadcasters about a range of new services,” it said.

RTÉ’s channels are not included in Sky Go, the satellite company’s on-the-go television service in Ireland. Industry sources said RTÉ has negotiated several agreements in recent years with the various platform providers to broadcast its content. “Every deal is different,” said the source.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times