RTE's plans to hike fees at Saorview under fire

Cormac Murphy

THE Government should intervene to force RTE to reduce proposed Saorview transmission fees, says the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

The BAI made the suggestion as it criticised what the station is to charge other channels to be broadcast on the free-to-air digital TV service.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte should exercise his powers under the Broadcasting Act to set the charge instead, it said. The BAI is concerned that the proposed charges could prove prohibitive.

In a report, it said the annual costs of €1m would make it unsustainable for other broadcasters to be carried.

The first Saorview service was launched by Mr Rabbitte in May. It carries eight channels and is available to 97pc of households in Ireland.

RTE One, RTE Two HD, TV3, TG4, RTE News Now, 3e, RTEjr and RTE One + 1 are all available on Saorview.

It replaces the old analogue television service, which will be shut off across Europe at the end of next year. Households receiving their television signal via an aerial will lose their television service if they do not switch to digital by then.

Saorview is a digital terrestrial television service and the signal is broadcast from masts across Ireland.

As a result of the high fees, the BAI believes that, into the future, it is unlikely services other than RTE stations would be carried on the platform.

TV3 also criticised the proposed costs, claiming they had risen from €500,000 to €1m.