Britain and Ireland share in television plan
Britain and Ireland share in television plan

26-County state television channels (RTE) and the Irish language channel TG4 will be freely available throughout all of the north of Ireland from 2012, the Dublin government has said.

However, viewers will have to wait and see if they will still be able to access the private commercial 26-County channel, TV3.

Some BBC channels will equally be carried free on a planned digital television system due to come into force in the 26 Counties at the same time, under the deal signed this week in London between the 26-County Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan and his British counterpart, Ben Bradshaw.

By 2012, the analogue television signals in Britain and across Ireland will be replaced by a digital transmission, which can only be accessed by people who have digital-ready television and services such as Freeview.

Minister Ryan said the agreement was the culmination of cooperation between the two governments on broadcasting issues.

The continued availability of signals from the BBC, particularly those from ‘BBC Northern Ireland’, was important, the Minister added, so that people in the 26 Counties “understand the context and issues” that affect people in the north.

The deal will ensure that the Dublin and London authorities co-operate on the transition from analogue to digital television services, including joint ownership of television masts along the border.

RTE and TG4 are currently available to only half of population of the north of Ireland, although a commitment to make both more freely available was included in the 2006 St Andrews Agreement.

There had been fears that RTE would not be available north of the border after analogue signals are turned off in 2012.

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