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The Public Will Pay for Oireachtas Television

No matter what the official view from the Oireachtas the public will pay for its service to broadcast on Saorview, the national free to air digital platform in Ireland. Saorview was launched in 2011 and since then OTV has remained off the service due to a dispute between the Houses of the Oireachtas and RTÉ's transmissions company, 2RN. 2RN is the company behind Ireland's broadcast infrastructure, it provides services for RTÉ, TV3, TG4 and Communicorp. It is expected that UTV Ireland will also be available on 2RN's Saorview platform. But the issue of cost has hampered much of Saorview’s development. 2RN sets the value of broadcasting a Standard Definition channel on the platform at €900,000 per year. The House of the Oireachtas are unwilling to pay this charge as they feel that 2RN is a public body and should give them free passage on the public’s distribution network.

Earlier this week the Houses of the Oireachtas announced the launch of Oireachtas TV, OTV. OTV has been available online and on pay network UPC for the past couple of years, so in reality the launch was for Sky subscribers. The Houses of the Oireachtas paid what they call a discounted rate to broadcast on Sky's encrypted service at a cost of just €250,000, however it is believed that other Irish broadcasters are not paying this kind of annual charge and may even pay nothing to Sky. One higher civil servant in the Department of Communications couldn't understand why RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 don't sell their content to Sky rather than give it for free and perhaps even incur an annual fee.

But with all of this said there is still no sign of OTV officially on Saorview. OTV is currently running a "trial" service on channel 17 on Saorview. This "trial" is paid for by RTÉ and where could they get the money for such a "trial" service but from the Licence Fee. A charge placed on those with a TV set across Ireland. The Licence Fee is not a subscription based fee, it is a tax.

If the Oireachtas pay the required price of broadcast on Soarview then it will cost the Tax Payer €900,000 and if Oireachtas get to put it back to RTÉ that they should fund OTV to be on Soarview the cost will lie with the Licence Fee payer, either way the public pay for this service to be on Soarview at a cost of €900,000. If it does come from the licence fee it should be noted in the annual report of the Oireachtas and in RTÉ's annual report.

The licence fee should not be used to fund transmissions it should be used to make TV, film and Radio.