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Communications minister launches free-to-air Digital TV service

Ireland’s answer to Freeview, called ‘Saorview’, will ultimately replace the current analogue TV broadcast system.

Image: Tsafrir Abayov/AP

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS Pat Rabbitte has launched Ireland’s national free-to-air digital TV service – a service which is expected to replace the current analogue broadcast system in just 18 months.

The new system, dubbed ‘Saorview’, is being rolled out by RTÉ and RTÉ Networks Ltd at a cost of €70m.

The Saorview system can be accessed either by purchasing a set-top box that will decode the digital broadcasts, though newer televisions might already have decoding systems fitted within them. The new system will not require homes to install a satellite dish.

The system is currently set for eight channels: RTÉ One, RTÉ Two (augmented with high-definition broadcasts when available), TV3 and 3e, TG4, RTÉ Jr, RTÉ News Now and RTÉ One +1 (which replays all content from RTÉ One, delayed by one hour).

The analogue switch-off will not impact on viewers who currently watch TV through a satellite or cable system – though it does affect the 340,000-or-so homes which will receive their main TV service through a traditional antenna.

The new Saorview system will carry Ireland’s first ever free-to-air high-definition programmes this weekend, when RTÉ Two HD carries live coverage of the Magners League final between Munster and Leinster on Saturday night.

The channel will also carry free-to-air HD coverage of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final between Cork and Tipperary on Sunday, while the UEFA Champions’ League final between Barcelona and Manchester United will also be carried live in HD on Saturday.

A list of retailers selling Saorview-approved hardware can be found on the Saorview website.

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Gavan Reilly

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