Dáil Éireann - Volume 506 - 03 June, 1999

Written Answers. - Digital Television.

27. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands her views on the delay in the introduction of digital television in view of the fact that this service is already operating in the United Kingdom; if she has satisfied herself that any Irish company offering digital services can compete in this market in spite of the late start; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14709/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): Technological developments allow the possibility of digital television services to be made available to viewers on a variety of delivery platforms. These platforms are satellite, cable, MMDS and terrestrial transmission. My function relates only to the creation of the digital terrestrial television, DTT, infrastructure.

The Government has decided that arrangements should be made for the introduction of DTT in Ireland at the earliest possible date. On Thursday 27 May 1999 I announced the publication of the Broadcasting Bill, 1999, which is intended to facilitate the introduction of digital terrestrial television, DTT, in Ireland. Enactment of this Bill is regarded as urgent in the legislative programme of the Government. A new entity is to be created which will be mandated to build and operate the DTT infrastructure. RTE will be a minority shareholder in this entity to which will be transferred RTE's existing transmission assets. A project management group, chaired by my [100] Department and including representatives of other Government Departments and of RTE, is overseeing the management of this project which is already under way.

The enactment of the Broadcasting Bill and the creation of the DTT infrastructure entity will place Ireland at the forefront of developments in this field in Europe.