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Flanagan Calls on RTE to Ensure Digital Service in North

1 November, 2011 - by Phil Flanagan

Sinn Féin's Phil Flanagan MLA, (Fermanagh & South Tyrone) has called on RTE to ensure that its digital service will be available to viewers in the North following the switchover next October.

Mr Flanagan said:

“I share the concerns of many of my constituents that the decision by RTE to opt for a different technological format to that available in the North could result in Northern viewers being unable to receive RTE and TG4 on free-to-air television. 

“Freeview signal in the North is received via MPEG-2 compression technology, whereas in the south, the government has opted for MPEG-4 format. 

“This effectively means that people in the north wishing to watch RTÉ or TG4 after the digital switchover next October will be forced to purchase additional freeview boxes or to change their televisions, all of which will come at a significant cost to consumers. It is beyond comprehension why the national broadcaster would decide on a format that could not only cut off a section of its present viewers but deny itself a significant advertising revenue from northern sources.

“It also flies in the face of the much heralded memorandum of understanding between the Irish and British governments to live up to the agreements laid out in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) to ensure that Northern viewers have access to Irish language broadcasting through TG4.

“I have written to both Ministers with responsibility in order to push for a satisfactory outcome in this regard; it is completely unacceptable that their departments have been advising people here to purchase their digital equipment early while indications are that those wishing to receive RTE, TG4 and TV3 will have to purchase an additionsal receiver box to do so. In times of economic restraint and pressures on household budgets this is an additional cost that could be easily avoided with just a little consideration and forethought. I believe that it is not too late for the Irish government to rethink this decision and live up to its committments in the GFA

“In the meantime, I would encourage people who are considering purchasing digital equipment to ensure that it will support MPEG-4 to enable them to receive RTÉ, TG4 and TV3.” CRÍOCH

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