of Digital Switchover with Northern Ireland
On 1st February 2010 the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. This MOU provides for North-South co-operation on the transition to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and analogue switch off. The MOU is available by going to this link (PDF 115KB).
The Memorandum commits the two Governments to facilitating the widespread availability of RTÉ services in Northern Ireland on a free-to-air basis and BBC services in Ireland on a paid for basis. The provision of BBC throughout Ireland is a commercial decision for BBC as, unlike RTÉ, BBC does not have a mandate to provide its services throughout the Island of Ireland.
The Memorandum also ensures the continuing widespread availability of TG4 in Northern Ireland following the digital switchover.
In 2012, RTÉ and TG4 formed a not-for-profit venture to provide their channels on Freeview in Northern Ireland. Coverage of these channels in Northern Ireland is being supplemented by overspill coverage from Saorview so that, from 24 October 2012, over 94% of homes in Northern Ireland will be able to receive TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two television services and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta without subscription for the first time.
To ensure the new Freeview channels cover as much of the population as possible, they use the new MPEG4 and DVB-T2 standards which can be received on Freeview HD equipment. Saorview overspill signals can be received either through a Saorview approved receiver, newer Freeview products compatible with the MPEG4 standard, or Freeview HD equipment. Viewers should ask their retailer for advice on receiving the services they want.