Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 19 October, 2006
Written Answers. - Broadcasting Legislation.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his future intentions for terrestrial broadcasting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33518/06]
Mr. Howlin Mr. Howlin
Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his views on bringing forward specific legislation for the introduction of Digital Terrestrial Television; the reason digital television is not dealt with in a more comprehensive manner in the new Broadcasting Bill; the timeframe for a national rollout of DTT; the way he intends to manage spectrum space as the digitisation process advances; if he will confirm that 2012 is the date for analogue switch-off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33414/06]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Mr. N. Dempsey: I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 95 together.
A digital terrestrial television (DTT) pilot programme is currently being implemented by my Department. The purpose of the pilot is to bring further momentum to the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting and to test and trial various aspects of the service. The DTT pilot is now in the “soft trial” phase during which the network and user technologies will be tested. The initial transmission sites are at Clermont Carn in the north east and Three Rock covering parts of the Dublin region. The trial is planned to continue over a two-year timeframe and will provide the opportunity for technical and user testing of both existing and new broadcast services, including both television and audio services.
My Department has began with legislation on preparing digital terrestrial television and is examining all the options with regard to putting in place a legislative framework for national DTT roll-out. It is anticipated that the pilot will gener ate awareness and discussion among interested parties in a full national roll-out of digital terrestrial television. As the trial progresses and proposals are developed for a national rollout of digital terrestrial television, the question of possible analogue switch-off dates will be considered.
Switch-off of analogue television services is being strongly advocated by the European Commission, with 2012 a target date suggested by the Commission. While the pilot is underway, I intend to hold discussions with all relevant stakeholders around the issue of digital switchover. When decisions have been taken about the nature and timing of analogue switch over, it will be necessary to ensure that Irish viewers are fully informed of all the issues arising. During the summer, the International Telecommunications Union held an international conference to plan the use of the frequency spectrum for digital Broadcasting. Ireland was represented at that conference by officials from my Department along with representatives from ComReg, BCI and RTÉ.
I am very pleased with the outcome of the conference. In addition to obtaining the necessary spectrum to allow for the initial roll-out of DTT nationwide, Ireland has also secured the right to reuse the existing analogue transmission frequencies for digital use. This will facilitate not only the introduction of DTT nationwide, but also permit the development of many new and innovative services, such as mobile television, high definition television or interactive television, particularly following the switch-off of the analogue services. My Department is currently examining how the spectrum should be used so that it can fully contribute to the development of broadcasting in a knowledge-based society.
Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 36.
Dáil Éireann 625 Written Answers. Broadcasting Legislation.