The results of the reviews by DCNER (Department Of Communications), BAI (Broadcast Authority of Ireland) should be public next week (23rd January 2011). The only change from the original proposals for channels expected is that the RTÉ1 + 1 will be called RTÉ+, initially this will be RTE1 + 1 hour past content but by mid 2012 will have its own schedule and some bought in content currently shown late on RTE2 (Perhaps like Mad Men, currently at Midnight on RTE2). During the daytime the RTÉ+ channel will be RTÉ Junior.

All content will be available to any Pay TV operator (such as Sky or UPC, but it’s obviously up to the Pay TV operator to decide to carry the channels and pay their own carriage and distribution costs. RTE NL’s Saorview and Saorsat will also be obliged to carry Oireachtas Report and the Irish Film Channel. These are 3rd party channels and will launch when the 3rd parties  pay / provide them. Presumably the Oireachtas and The Irish Film Board must fund them.

An RTÉ spokesperson says

Our message for DTT is that once the a once-off payment for aerial [if existing one unsuitable or missing] and set-box or Saorview-approved television [some existing uncertified  TVs work fine] has been  made, then it provides free-to-air access for ever in Ireland and there will be universal access – and thus remove the ‘digital divide’ that currently runs down the middle of Ireland (with exception of Galway, Limerick and Cork cities).

For those that claim DTT has “missed the boat” and IP TV is the future, RTÉ points out the RTÉ player was launched in April 2009 and offers a comprehensive catch-up service for up to 21 days. This may be integrated later to set-box or TV that has Ethernet or WiFi connectivity to Broadband.

The full launch will be in May 2011 as everything should be in place, including Satellite backup/Fill in Service, Saorsat and Terrestrial coverage (TV via Aerial) at 97%. By ASO in the last quarter of 2012 there will be about 98% coverage.

HD will include GAA Championships and GAA generally, additionally commissioned HD content and acquired US drama in HD.

There will soon be a DTT coverage map with aerial pointing guide and more DTT website content from RTE.

Coverage Checker / Saorview Coverage Maps (update)

25th February 2011: RTÉ Coverage Checker and Techtír’s RTE Maps are live]

Public Awareness

The Awareness Campaign will be affected by the timing of the General Election. The plan was to start “DTT is coming” messages in the media at the end of February. Lessons have been learned by study of the UK ASO (Analogue has been Switched of in many UK areas, including all of Wales), where in fact most people did nothing until just before the Analogue in their area was turned off. ASO in Ireland will be in the last quarter of 2012, though the Government has not yet set an exact date.

Up to a Million TV viewers are affected by ASO, so RTE expects Retailers to take an active part in Saorview publicity. Mary Curtis (former Deputy Head of RTE Television) is the Head of RTÉ DSO program and Cawley Nea\TBWA has been selected as Advertising/Publicity Agents.