Information on Irish Digital TV for the viewer. This is NOT an official Website, please look at the official Saorview Website. This website exists to help explain what Saorview is and how to get other Free to Air Digital Television channels in Ireland.

Analogue TV (RTE1, RTE2, TV3 and TG4) in Ireland was turned off at about 10am 24th October  2012.

N.I. Analogue ended late night on the 23rd (BBC1, UTV, C4 & 5) BBC2 having been turned off earlier.

Saorview* is the name for Ireland’s new FTA (Free To Air) Digital TV system that was launched on 29th October 2010. Tests originally started in 1997 and the Launch was originally expected in 2001 to 2002. Engineering tests of the current system have been running since at least 2008 on a few transmitters. It is the Brand name for the transmissions from the two Public Service Multiplexes (PSB Mux) that RTE NL is obliged to operation by the “Broadcasting Act 2009”

Why Saorview? I suppose because the UK FTA terrestrial TV, DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television), running about ten years is called “Freeview” and “saor” is Gaelic for “free”.

What is ASO?

Analogue Switch Off. It only applies to signals from a TV aerial. It will be complete in ALL of Ireland including N.I. by 24th October 2012. After this date only compatible Digital TVs or TVs with a suitable set-box will get a signal via an aerial. Cable TV (including MMDS) and Satellite is not affected.

Will my TV stop working?

Maybe. If it does you can adapt it with a set-box from about €50. Then you will get some more channels and HD if you have an HD TV. Also true widescreen, some radio channels, a TV guide and improved version of Teletext with photos in it.

When Can I get Digital TV?

Today. Probably. Your TV might even have a Digital Tuner already.

Do I need a new TV?

No. If your TV has SCART or HDMI connector you can use a separate Add On Set-Box. If your TV only has an aerial connection (very rare as most have SCART and all HDTV, Full HD and HD Ready TV have HDMI), then you can use the SCART and RF out on an old VHS Tape casssette recorder to connect the setbox. While “Freeview”, UK Digital is not compatible, a few Freeview TVs do work perfectly on Irish Digital TV (DTT or Saorview). Virtually all “Freeview HD” TVs work. You may need a new aerial. There is no such thing as a Digital Aerial. Just a correct UHF TV aerial for your location. For most people an outdoor aerial is required, though some may be able to use an attic mounted aerial or even an indoor aerial. Contact ISAA (Irish Satellite & Aerial Association)

Why should I care?

Because Analogue TV (existing TV via an aerial since 1961, or earlier for those receiving BBC) is getting turned off in 2012. Digital also gives real Widescreen and soon HDTV. Already the coverage and quality of signal, especially for TV3, and a lesser extent TG4 is much better than Analogue.

Also many HDTV, HD Ready TV and “Digital TV” are obsolete even in UK as they have recently started a new “Freeview HD” transmission system. Only newer design HDTV and HD Ready TV, even in UK, can ever pick up UK HD. Most of the older kind of TV (many being sold today in Ireland, “Product Dumping” or ignorance?) won’t work with the Irish Digital system at all. So unlike Colour TV on and aerial, some Digital TVs intended for other Countries work perfectly, some just basic features and others not at all!

What is Saorsat?

It’s a backup feed for DTT transmitters and fill in service for the 2% to 3% that won’t be able to get a Digital Terrestrial Service with perfect picture. It’s on Satellite using Ka-Band @ 9E, so existing Dishes and LNBs won’t work. However 6% to 25% don’t get the existing Analogue TV services or get them very poorly (depending on channel and what is regarded as acceptable reception).

Pay TV (Sky & UPC). You don’t need it.

Only Analogue TV via an aerial is affected. Pay TV, UPC (formerly NTL and Chorus), Casey, Magnet or Sky is not affected. By 2012 they may even have the extra channels or HDTV versions of Irish TV. UPC may phase out Analogue Cable TV, but that is nothing to do with ASO or Digital TV rollout. That will be to make the cable system more efficient. Already they offer more channels for lower price on Digital than Analogue Cable. The Analogue Switch Off at end of 2012 is not a reason to get Pay TV.

Will there be a Subsidy?

The issue of Dish install subsidy for those deemed by RTE NL to get no Terrestrial (Aerial) signal is not decided yet.
The issue of Digital Setbox subsidy for some people is also not decided.
The Government is to commission a study.

I have an MPEG4 set-box but RTE 2 has gone!

See the Black List and this  News Item. Your set box is not compatible.

My TV did get the tests even though it’s a Freeview TV. After a re-scan they are gone!

Most Freeview TVs don’t work at all. But some with Freesat HD and some others have MPEG4 and HD. Unfortunately many are not compatible, especially Panasonic Models. Contact your TV dealer or Manufacturer for a Firmware Upgrade. The TV is only scanning stations without MPEG4 or HD “flags” set. Earlier during testing the basic Freeview flag was set. The flags are now correct. Your TV is the problem.

Will it have the UK Freeview or Freesat Channels?

No. That is like asking if  Freeview in England should have Irish or French TV. Most terrestrial networks only have the TV stations of their own Country. This is explained in detail. So no UK Television on Saorview, though there will be some new Irish channels and some extra content is live already! Check out the Tabs on the top!


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This site is mostly information from Techtir and will not be updated as frequently, nor go into technical details. All compiled by Techtir and Michael Watterson.

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* Saorview logo and name are property of “RTE NL”, who manage Ireland’s National Analogue and Digital Transmitter Networks. They are distinct from RTE who originate the TV and Radio Channels. See their website http://rtenl.ie/

This domain was donated by Paul of Saortv.com Aka Slegs on www.boards.ie.  Thanks Paul!