TV channel to broadcast Oireachtas to 1.1 million homes

Ceann Comhairle says station to provide increased access to Dáil and Seanad for public

A new television channel dedicated to broadcasting Oireachtas proceedings to 1.1 million Irish homes was launched today, September 22nd. Mary Minihan asks whether this public exposure will force deputies and senators to up their game.

 

The work of the Dáil, Seanad and Oireachtas committees is to be relayed to 1.1 million Irish homes by a new dedicated television channel launched in Dublin today.

Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil Seán Barrett said Oireachtas TV would bring the Irish people closer to their national parliament and broadcast in a manner that was “instant, accessible, factual, objective and impartial’’.

He added that on his election to the office he had identified the need for increased access for the public so they could inform themselves of the work of parliament and its members.

“I have always believed television to be the best way for people to see for themselves what is happening in their parliament,’’ he said.

The service is free of charge on UPC channel 207 and Sky channel 574 and, shortly, on the Eircom TV platform.

Channel production and presentation will cost approximately €200,000 annually, while distribution will cost €250,000, which is the discounted fee for access to the Sky platform. UPC and Eircom are regulated in Ireland as cable providers and must carry coverage free of charge.

Broadcaster and author of Window and Mirror, RTÉ television: 1961-2011 John Bowman traced the history of the moves to have the Oireachtas televised and noted the strong resistance to it from some politicians in the early years of the national broadcaster.

While there had been media pressure for television coverage, the then Fianna Fáil minister for posts and telegraphs, Joseph Brennan, insisted in 1966 there was not “the slightest hope’’ of having either House of the Oireachtas covered, said Mr Bowman.