Irish Republican News · December 21, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Television stand-off ‘to end in 2012’

Television channels from the South will be beamed for free across the Six Counties by the end of 2012, it was confirmed this week.

The Dublin and London governments have struck a deal that will see programming by RTE, the state-run broadcasting service in the 26 Counties, as well as TG4 (Teilifis na Gaeilge), transmitted across the north for the first time.

Jeremy Hunt, the British minister responsible for broadcasting, confirmed the move in a writtenstatement to the House of Commons on Monday. It was claimed the two governments had been working for months to find a way of expanding the reach of TG4 in the north.

To do this, it said the British government is opening up space on the main transmitters in the north for TG4, RTE 1 and RTE 2.

Up to now, viewers have only been able to get RTE through a dedicated aerial tuned into transmitters across the border, through a satellite dish or via a cable TV service.

However, when the new service goes live sometime in 2012, anyone with a normal aerial and a Freeview enabled TV will at, no extra cost, be able to tune into the three southern channels just like they can to British television.

Most viewers in the South have been able to access BBC and other British-owned TV channels since the 1970s or 80s.

Irish speakers and Gaelic sports fans will benefit most from the planned move.

“It is hoped that this will further increase the coverage of these channels, enabling approximately 90 per cent of the population in Northern Ireland to receive their services on a free-to-air basis, either through overspill as before or via the new multiplex,” Jeremy Hunt said.

Politically, the decision marks another small landmark in the north’s peace process. Former SDLP leader John Hume first called for RTE to be available in the north 40 years ago but the idea found littlefavour with unionist politicians or the British authorities. The matter was also raised during negotiations for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

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