Trial digital TV service launched


Television viewers in the 26 counties can now access several RTÉ channels in digital following the trial roll-out of Saorview, a new free-to-air digital television service.

RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, TG4 and RTÉ News Now can be accessed as part of the trial. It is expected that more services and channels will be available once the full service is launched next year.

Announcing the plans today, Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan said: “Digital Television will improve the television experience for the viewer, with more channels, high-definition pictures, higher-quality sound, on-screen menus and digital teletext.

Irish homes have two years to upgrade their TV sets to receive a digital signal as the analogue terrestrial television network operated by RTÉ will be switched off at the end of 2012.

More than 1 million viewers currently use the analogue terrestrial television service in their homes.

The European Union has determined the end of 2012 as the date by which Ireland needs to launch a replacement digital transmission system to ensure all Irish audiences can continue to receive free-to-air television.

The end of analogue broadcasting will free up space for wireless broadband and mobile services and the Government estimates that the country will benefit by as much as €500 million over the next decade as a result.

"Today’s launch of the RTE digital television service, on a trial basis, is another important milestone in the advent of free-to-air digital television to Ireland. Television viewers and the country in general will benefit from this modernisation of our television service,” Minister Ryan added.

The Digital Television service will launch today from 24 sites around the country.