Tuesday 15 October 2019

Saorview pricing model is restricting range of TV channels, says TG4


TG4 said ‘serious issues needed to be addressed’. (Stock image)
TG4 said ‘serious issues needed to be addressed’. (Stock image)
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Irish-language station TG4 has criticised the fee structure used by RTE's digital TV platform Saorview for "restricting the provision" of additional channels. In a submission to the Department of Communications, TG4 claimed "serious issues needed to be addressed in relation to Saorview's operational model".

Under the Saorview model, the costs of the service plus a margin are divided among all the channels on the platform. The more channels there are, the lower the cost for each channel.

However, TG4 says that adding hour-shifted services, known as +1 channels, are uneconomical for broadcasters. That is because they offer only a "minimal" boost to revenues, which is outstripped by Saorview's charges under the current regime.

"The cost of Saorview continues to present a real barrier to users in the development of their services on the platform," said TG4. This, it claims, is a fundamental weakness of Saorview.

A spokesman for RTE, which owns Saorview operator 2rn, said: "Broadcasters are charged on the basis of bit rate usage [amount of data transferred by a station] which fairly apportions the charges over the usage consumed by each channel. Three new channels have been added to the Saorview platform in recent years.

"RTE has recently published a revised reference offer for carriage on the Saorview platform for the next five years, commencing 1 April 2019, with a reduction of over 20pc in the bit rate charge."

RTE and its subsidiary, 2rn, invested over €60m to build the digital terrestrial network, which provides free-to-air digital TV services to households in Ireland.

The Saorview tariff operates in a regulated market and it reports audited accounts annually to ComReg.

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