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RTÉ availability in Antrim to improve but needs a further boost - McKay‏

20 March, 2012

Sinn Féin Assembly Member Daithí McKay has said that the Irish government should ensure that the 8 Irish digital television channels are accessible throughout County Antrim after the digital switchover later this year.

Mr McKay said that there is an opportunity now to address the historical problem of having no access to RTÉ on the north coast

“With analogue being switched off at the end of 2012 there is a lot of concern about accessing RTÉ 1 & 2, TV3 and TG4 in the future and in particular some of its most attractive programming whether that be GAA matches, the excellent documentaries that are on TG4 or the International soccer games. 

“It is very much to be welcome that because of an inter-governmental agreement that RTÉ 1 and 2 are to be broadcast from transmitters in the north whilst TG4 is to have its broadcast footprint expanded to around 90% of homes. This will mean that RTÉ will reach more homes in the north than ever before.

“This is an acute problem in North Antrim as many homes in places like Ballycastle and into the Glens cannot get our own indigenous channels as it is and we must work to ensure that this does not continue in the new age of digital.

“Saorview is the equivalent of Freeview which we already have in the north and in October the scope of Saorview will widen further and this will benefit the west of County Antrim and Belfast in particular. TV3 unfortunately will not be accessible via transmitters in the north as RTÉ will now be but we will be able to access it with this overspill come October in parts of the county. This overspill will also offer RTÉ channels and there will be no blacking out of certain programmes/sports events such as International soccer games as is the case through Sky at present because of broadcast rights.

“To access the 8 Irish digital channels, signal permitting, you will need an Mpeg4 compatible television and many new televisions will already be compatible. Older televisions will be Mpeg2 and will not be able to access the channels as the type of digital signal being received is different. Those who want to access all channels but do not want to buy a new television could opt for a Saorview box instead.

“I intend to monitor how coverage is affected across North Antrim come October and I also intend to continue raising with the Irish government in particular the need to ensure that national channels are accessible through the entire country and that the north coast has reasonable access to all channels.”

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