|Type||DTT platform operator|
|Founded||29 October 2010|
|Area served||Ireland and Northern Ireland (via overspill)|
|Key people||Mick Kehoe (Executive Director 2RN)|
|Services||Digital terrestrial television|
The service began operation on 29 October 2010 on a trial basis with full launch on 26 May 2011. By legislation it was required to be available to approximately 90% of the population by end of October 2010 in a public testing capacity and nationwide by December 2011. The national public launch was preceded by a public information campaign, which began on 15 March 2011, with a television and radio advertising beginning 17 March 2011.
Saorview was officially launched on 26 May 2011 by Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte TD, and the service became the primary source of broadcast television in Ireland following the ending of analogue transmissions on 24 October 2012.
Saorview is Ireland's national DTT service. The Irish word Saor means free, thereby mirroring a common name of DTT services in many regions, Freeview, through a mix of the English and Irish languages.
Saorview is available from 64 DTT transmitters covering 98% of the population as of the end of Q3 2012. The previous analogue terrestrial television (ATT) network was available to 98% of the population from 150 ATT transmitters, however TV3 and TG4 were not available on all transmitters.
The service is a DVB-T/MPEG-4 HD set top box (STB) receiver or iDTV and UHF aerial will be required. MHEG-5 has been selected as the middleware standard for digital teletext, Saorview branded EPG and interactive services. For non MHEG-5 compatible receivers regular analogue TV teletext will continue to be available and programme information will be displayed through the receiver's own inbuilt EPG. Either DVB or Teletext subtitling can be displayed when broadcast.
Mary Curtis became Director of Digital Switchover (DSO) in September 2010 and reports to the Director General.
The service was launched in 2011 with ASO campaign phase beginning Dec 2011. Two campaigns were launched. The first campaign was marketing Soarview and was paid for by RTÉ, this cost RTÉ over €3million, meanwhile a second campaign featuring featuring Gay Byrne was also launched by the Department of Communications, it also cost in the region of €3million. Both campaigns used social media such as Facebook and Twitter alongside their own websites www.goingdigital.ie (now defunct) and www.saorview.ie. The lack of services on the new digital system did not prevent such costly campaigns.
Initially only one multiplex was available on the service, the second public service Mux was launched with the introduction of RTÉ One HD on 16 December 2013.
Saorview on launch carried just one High Definition (HD) service, a second HD service was launched for RTÉ One on 16 December 2013. RTÉ One and Two HD are the Republic of Ireland's only free-to-air HD services. Currently RTÉ One and RTÉ Two HD are carried on what is known as "high definition light", selected live "pass through" programming is carried in high definition, SD programmes are upscaled to HD. For example, RTÉ Two HD covers the GAA championships in high definition on a "whistle to whistle" basis as the production studios at Donnybrook have not been upgraded to HD yet.
It is expected that TG4 and TV3 will eventually become high definition services. TV3 have already launched their HD definition studios in association with Sony, while TG4 have launch a trial HD service on the UPC cable network. TG4 received €1.4million in aid from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in 2011 for the role out of their HD service.
A further four multiplexes are available for commercial pay DTT.
2RN will provide commercial DTT capacity on its network for pay TV services that can agree terms with it and the BAI. However that is not likely until 2013 according to the BAI following on from a de-briefing exercise the BAI held with the three consortia involved in the 2008 failed licence process. The BAI said "the Authority now considers that it will not be feasible to introduce commercial DTT as originally intended until after Analogue Switch Off (ASO) at the earliest. The position will be reviewed towards the end of 2011 and the Authority may seek expressions of interest in the provision of commercial DTT at that point. A competition could potentially be held during 2012 with a view to commercial DTT being operational in 2013". It continued "it is the considered view of the Authority that as part of the preparation for the successful launch of commercial DTT in the future, legislative change will be necessary to enable the Authority to have formal relationships with the applicants, as obtains at present, and with RTÉNL".
To date the BAI have not announced any plans for a competition for a commercial DTT service. In August 2013, the BAI confirmed that it would launch another attempt of finding a service provider for the commercial DTT service.
This was to allow the PSB side to proceed with an ASO transition to DSO, a stabilized economic backdrop by that time (3 years time) to emerge and changes in the Broadcasting Act 2009 to allow it have statutory mediation powers in dealing with RTÉNL (now 2RN) that it currently has with the broadcasters and interested parties but not with 2RN. 2RN is currently regulated by ComReg.
In August 2013 a report into Commercial DTT by Oliver & Ohlbaum was given to the BAI, the report outlined the main problems associated with DTT in Ireland including the lack of free-to-air services on Saorview. Based on this report the BAI have decided not to proceed with a licence competition for pay-DTT. The report was published on the BAI website in January 2014. On its publication Bob Collins, Chairperson of the BAI said “The contents of the report raise a number of policy implications for consideration by Government and also for the BAI, having regard to its statutory obligations and its enduring objectives in respect of diversity and plurality. In submitting copies of the review to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the BAI would now welcome the opportunity to discuss the findings of the report and the policy implications arising at an early date.” 
As part of RTÉ's 5 year plan they have suggested the development of an on-demand service utilizing Saorview and broadband service providers. The current name of the service is Saorview Anywhere. It will provide access to the RTÉ Player and a number of new IPTV services that RTÉ wish to launch with suitable commercial providers. The new "anywhere" service may also include both TG4's and TV3's on demand services.
At 10am on 24 October 2012 all analogue television transmitters in Ireland were switched off and Saorview became the primary source of Irish terrestrial television. The process was televised live on RTÉ One and RTÉ News Now, with the kill-switch being thrown by television personality Miriam O'Callaghan.
Following the failure of the commercial DTT process RTÉ submitted a revised DTT plan including a FTA satellite option to the Department of Communications in mid June 2010 for approval. RTÉ publicly announced at an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications discussion in mid July 2010 that a satellite service, called Saorsat, would be offered to complement the terrestrial DTT service. Saorsat will enable Irish public service channels to be made available, unencrypted, for the first time, as a means of covering the last 2% of the population who will be unable to receive the Saorview terrestrial service.
RTÉ said the combined offering was designed to be the most cost-effective solution for viewers and broadcasters; to offer for the first time 100% coverage of public service television services in Ireland; and to provide full national back-up coverage on satellite in the event of an emergency or catastrophic failure of the DTT system.
Approval for the revised National DTT plan and the new Saorsat satellite service was announced by the Minister for Communications at the end of July 2010.
It is anticipated that the Saorsat satellite service will be available from the second quarter of 2012. Test loop transmissions detected from the end of May 2011 and received on generic DVB-S2 HD set-boxes.