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Not now

You can have the Dáil in your front room from September

Oireachtas TV will be available on UPC, Sky and Eircom… but not RTÉ’s Saorview.

Updated 7.40pm

FROM SEPTEMBER, YOU can turn your home into a hotbed of political discussion with the launch of Oireachtas TV.

That’s unless you’re a Saorview user, because RTÉ hasn’t allowed the channel onto Saorview. However, UPC, Sky and Eircom customers will all be able to watch the business of the Oireachtas from their front room.

They’ll also be able to watch the Banking Inquiry on the channel.

A source saying the Oireachtas is “very disappointed at the RTÉ approach” to the channel not being on Saorview.

In a statement this evening, RTÉ said it has provided extensive coverage of the proceedings of the Oireachtas across all of its services on television, on radio, and online for many years.

It added that as public broadcaster, it “commits significant journalistic staff and technical resources to its Oireachtas coverage” to provide impartial and informative programming as well as in-depth analysis.

In addition to its regular news and current affairs output, throughout each Dáil term RTÉ broadcasts seven weekly television programmes devoted exclusively to Oireachtas coverage and analysis, as well as live coverage of specific Oireachtas events such as the Budget.

All of these programmes are available to Irish viewers on cable, satellite and SAORVIEW, as well and the RTÉ Player and globally on RTÉ News Now, .

RTÉ will be showing the banking inquiry committee hearings live on News Now and streamed on the RTÉ News website.

WIth regards to a dedicated Oireachtas channel and carriage costs on Saorview, RTÉ said it is not in a position to offer subsidised or discretionary tariffs.

Access to Saorview is determined by the provisions of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 as well as ComReg:

RTÉ is obliged to treat all customers on a similar basis in terms of access and tariffs charged irrespective of who those customers are. This comes with the specific ComReg obligation on RTÉ which is non-discrimination.

The cost

Channel production and presentation of Oireachtas TV will cost around €200k per year, and distribution will cost €250k annually.

The Oireachtas already invests around €2m a year to provide public and private broadcasters with 2,500 hours of content- but currently just a fraction of this is made available to the public, leading to the decision to launch a specific channel.

The Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett TD, has championed the idea of making the Oireachtas accessible to all since his appointment.

He said that he saw there was a need for increased access for the public “so that they can inform themselves of the work of our Parliament and its members”.

He has also said that “it is important that the Irish public should be aware of the workings of their Parliament through every possible media outlet.”

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Here’s more on the reasoning behind setting up the channel:

Repeated research has shown that at least half of the public have a low understanding and perception of the Oireachtas and that same research shows that television is by far the public’s media of choice (approximately 80% preference) where they prefer to be informed and communicated with about parliament and politics. Our strategy has made it much easier for a much wider public to engage, with and inform themselves about, their national parliament.

Pilot programme

The Oireachtas proceedings are already available on channel 207 on UPC, as part of a pilot programme that has been running since 2011.

With surveys showing that the level of viewing of the channel had increased year-on-year, the aim is now to add value with a specific parliamentary television channel.

There won’t be any presenters, in keeping with the channel’s ‘no frills’ approach.

But there will be updated captions on screen explaining what is happening on screen.

Will you watch Oireachtas TV?

Poll Results:

No (431)
Yes (410)
Sometimes (406)

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