A CONSORTIUM backed by TV3, Setanta and Eircom is set to meet the broadcasting regulator "early next week" after the group took the surprise decision to begin talks on rolling Ireland's next generation of paid-for TV.
The trio's 'OneVision' originally came in second place in last July's high-stakes battle for the TV contract.
But the group was given another shot at the project after the first-placed contender handed back the contract almost two weeks ago, citing the changed "economic circumstances".
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has made it clear to OneVision that they can only go ahead with the project on the basis they originally proposed in July.
Ahead of this week's meeting, several sources close to the consortium indicated that OneVision was "unlikely" to go ahead on the July basis, given the changes in the commercial environment since then.
But the group yesterday surprised observers by issuing a statement declaring it had decided to begin "negotiations" with the BCI on the launch of the new paid-for TV platform, known as DTT.
"While recognising that the timelines for the DTT project have shifted and the economic environment has deteriorated the consortium remains positive about DTT and is ready to engage with the BCI to move the project forward," the statement said.
"All recognise the strategic importance of the DTT project to Irish broadcasting and to ensuring diversity of choice and content to Irish television viewers."
Sources at the BCI said the commission was "quietly optimistic" for OneVision to take over the tender. The two sides will have their first face-to-face meeting "early next week".