Television in Ireland is available through a variety of platforms. The digital terrestrial television service is known as Saorview and is the primary source of broadcast television and digital satellite (from BSkyB & Freesat) and Cable (from UPC) are also widely used.
The Irish satellite fill-in service Saorsat (Freesat) is available from Eutelsat KA-SAT 9A using the Irish ka-Band spotbeam.
While many people still receive their television via Saorview, run by RTÉ Network Limited more than half subscribe to multichannel television networks.
The biggest single multichannel television network in Ireland is Sky, owned and operated by BSkyB, which broadcasts digital satellite television services. UPC Ireland, Magnet Networks and Smart Vision, among others, provide similar digital television services to Irish viewers.
Broadcasting in Northern Ireland is governed under United Kingdom law.
The British Broadcasting Corporation operates a national region in Northern Ireland, known as BBC Northern Ireland, and one member of the BBC Trust is designated Trustee for Northern Ireland. The Office of Communications regulates the commercial broadcasting sector in Northern Ireland.
TV licence in Ireland
In Ireland, a television licence is required for any address at which there is a television set. In 2014, the annual licence fee is €160.
Revenue is collected by An Post, the Irish postal service.
The bulk of the fee is used to fund Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), the state broadcaster. The licence must be paid for any premises that has any equipment that can potentially decode TV signals, even those that are not RTÉ’s.
The licence is free to anyone over the age of 70, some over 66, some Social Welfare recipients, and the blind. The fee for the licences of such beneficiaries is paid for by the state. The current governing legislation is the Broadcasting Act 2009, in particular Part 9 “Television Licence” and Chapter 5 “Allocation of Public Funding to RTÉ and TG4”. Devices which stream television via internet do not need licenses, nor do small portable devices such as mobile phones.
The current government plans to replace the television licence with a Public Service Broadcasting Charge on all primary residences and certain businesses.
A public consultation document on the plan was published in August 2013.
Asked in December 2014 about the delay in switching from the licence to the new charge, Minister of State Joe McHugh said the government would “be taking more time to work out a very complex system”. As of 2016 the proposal has been shelved indefinitely though may be examined again by the incoming government.
Public service channels are carried by RTÉ Network Limited, covering 98% of the country.
The Irish system, being used by both 2RN and any subsequent commercial DTT provider is a MPEG-4 DVB-T service with an MHEG-5 interactive layer.
RTÉ Television were awarded a licence to operate a single multiplex, with a second multiplex to follow once analogue broadcasting ceased after 24 October 2012. Other possible services to launch on the second multiplex include additional services from TV3 such as TV3HD, TV3+1, 3Kids and 3Classics and additional channels from RTÉ such as an arts channel and music channel.
The Broadcasting Act 2009 provided provision for the launch of two additional public services. These include an Oireachtas Channel and an Irish Film Channel.
The launch date for these services are unknown. The Irish Film Board will oversee operation for the Irish Film Channel.
By 2012, SAORVIEW offered 98% coverage for all channels. Similar services such as Saorview available in the United Kingdom (Freeview) and other parts of Europe are not compatible with Ireland’s DTT service.
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 service is a DVB-T/MPEG-4 HD broadcast that is received via set top box (STB) receiver or iDTV and UHF aerial is required. MHEG-5 is the middleware standard for digital teletext. Programme information is displayed through the receiver’s own inbuilt EPG. Either DVB or Teletext subtitling can be displayed when broadcast.
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.
Saorview in Northern Ireland
Viewers in the Northern Ireland can receive a number of channels broadcast in the Republic of Ireland, including TG4 and RTÉ One RTÉ Two, TG4 and RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta.
The multiplex (NiMux) broadcasts in DVB-T2, the same parameters used by Freeview HD and is available to 90% of viewers in Northern Ireland. Other areas are covered by overspill from the Irish Republic and by Saorsat which covers almost the whole of Ireland.
SAORSAT is the name given to the infill free-to-air satellite television service put in place by RTÉNL to deliver Irish television services to the 1% to 2% of homes that are not covered by the SAORVIEW Digital Terrestrial Television service.
Due to the topography of Ireland, some areas have always been impossible to reach via terrestrial transmissions. This is because terrestrial signals need a line of sight and cannot, for example, go through mountains or deep down into valleys.
Therefore, SAORSAT was launched to provide free-to-air access to television services via satellite for the 2% of households who are not able to receive Saorview.
The TV channels available on SAORSAT are RTÉ One, RTÉ2 HD, RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr, RTÉ One +1 and TG4, together with RTÉ’s radio stations and digital Aertel.
The RTÉ services on SAORSAT are exactly the same as those on SAORVIEW.
The facility for other channels to be carried on the service is available but is a business decision for other broadcasters to make.
SAORSAT is available on the Eutelsat KA-SAT 9A, which is a narrow-band satellite with a footprint on the island of Ireland. To receive SAORSAT, you will need a satellite dish equipped with a Ka band LNB and a DVB-S2, SAORSAT set-top-box. 2RN recommends that anyone wishing to access the SAORSAT service should seek the advice of a specialist satellite installer.
Prior to Sky Digital, cable television was the most common system for distributing multi-channel television in Ireland. With more than 40 years of history and extensive networks of both wired and “wireless” cable, Ireland is amongst the most cabled countries in Europe. Forty percent of Irish homes received cable television in September 2006. The figure dropped slightly in the early years of the 21st century due to the increased popularity of satellite reception, notably Sky, but has stabilised recently.
In Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, which formally traded under the brand names Chorus NTL and UPC Ireland, is by far the largest cable and MMDS operator, owning all of the state’s MMDS licences and almost all of the state’s cable TV operators. Virgin Media offers analogue and digital cable television services in cities and towns throughout the country (with the exception of Cork, where the network is digital-only).
It offers MMDS services in rural areas. Other than Virgin Media, the only other operators providing analogue and digital cable systems are Crossan CableComm which operates in Longford, Smyths Cablevision, which operates in Cavan, and Casey Cablevision which operates in Dungarvan, County Waterford.
The Republic of Ireland has five national radio stations: RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2fm, RTÉ lyric fm, and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta are operated by RTÉ Radio, while Today FM is a commercial radio station operated by Denis Obrien group communicorp.
Newstalk 106, a Dublin local station, has been issued a “quasi-national” FM licence, and a similarly limited AM licence has been advertised for a religious service, presumably to quell the rising amounts of religious stations on Irish pirate radio. A “multi-city” service, consisting of one ILR franchise operating a single service in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, has been awarded to 4FM which is expected to launch in early 2009.
The BCI’s main commercial radio service is the Independent Local Radio network. This consists of 18 commercial stations licensed for different franchise areas. Except in Dublin and Cork, they operate as monopolies. (6, soon to be 7 stations are now licensed in Dublin and 2 in Cork). They operate a common news service, Independent Network News, and a common sales house, Independent Radio Sales. The first of these stations, FM104, came on air in 1989. One independent regional radio station, Beat 102.
DAB in Ireland
DAB was launched to the public on 30 November 2006, with trials taking place in 1998, 2001 and 2006. Currently, 56% of Ireland’s population – mainly in Counties Cork, Limerick and the North East – can receive permanent DAB services.
One permanent multiplex exists, operated by the national broadcaster RTÉ. The service began to be marketed in May 2007 by a collective of commercial broadcasters, receivers are now sold by most major electronics retailers.
21 services were available in Dublin, surrounding areas and the north-east, and 11 were available in other coverage areas during the trial phase.
A temporary licensed trial multiplex began transmission using block 9B in April 2010. It is operated by Total Broadcast Consultants Ltd. Initially it covered the Waterford City area and from mid May, expanded to cover much of the South East of Ireland.
RTÉ Radio is a department of Irish national broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. RTÉ Radio broadcasts four analogue channels and five digital channels.
The first voice broadcast of 2RN, the original radio call sign for RTÉ Radio 1, took place on 14 November 1925 when Seamus Clandillon, the 2RN station director said, ‘Seo Raidió 2RN, Baile Átha Cliath ag tástáil’, Irish for ‘This is Radio 2RN, Dublin calling’. Regular Irish radio-broadcasting began on 1 January 1926. Unfortunately, most Irish people could not receive 2RN’s (1.5 kilowatt) signal.
When faced with numerous complaints from Cork regarding the writers’ inability to tune to the signal, Clandillon remarked in The Irish Radio Review, a magazine dedicated to the service, that they did not know how to operate their sets. 6CK was established in Cork in 1927; however 6CK was mostly a relay of 2RN.
Unlike Irish television, Irish radio is available to listeners in the UK. RTÉ’s stations are carried on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms. They are all free-to-air and can be received on any digital satellite receiver.
How to listen to RTÉ Radio
These are the RTÉ Radio stations that are broadcast using analogue radio signals from RTÉ NL’s transmission masts around the country. More detailed information is available below the transmission map, but in general the frequencies for the stations fall into the following ranges:
- RTÉ Radio 1 FM – On 88-90 MHz
- RTÉ 2fm – On 90-92 MHz
- RTÉ lyric fm – On 96-99 MHz
- RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta – On 93-95 MHz
RTÉ DAB Radio
This multiplex operates on Block 12C (227.360 MHz) from Three Rock Mountain, Kippure and Clermont Carn (both in Leinster), Woodcock Hill, Limerick and Spur Hill, Cork.
RTÉ Radio 1, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ 2fm, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ lyric fm, 160 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Gold, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ 2XM, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ jr, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Pulse, 112 kbps Stereo
RTE Radio 1 +, 48 kbit/s DAB+ Stereo HE-AAC v2
RTE 2FM +, 64 kbits DAB+ Stereo HE-AAC v1
All RTÉ’s national and digital radio services are available on Saorview, Ireland’s free digital TV service. SAORVIEW is now available to 97% of the Irish population and will be available to 98% by the end of October 2012.
To access Saorview, you need an aerial and a Saorview Approved set-top-box for you old TV or an aerial and a new Saorview Approved TV.
When you plug in your new equipment, follow the steps on-screen and it will automatically tune in the services.
All RTÉ’s radio services and programme guides are listed on the Saorview EPG, from channel 200 to 209.
RTÉ Radio 1, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ 2fm, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ lyric fm, 160 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Gold, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ 2XM, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ jr, 112 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 128 kbps Stereo
RTÉ Pulse, 112 kbps Stereo
You can find out more about Saorview at www.saorview.ie
RTÉ Radio is also available on the Irish satellite platform Saorsat (Freesat).
The follow RTÉ stations are available:
RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2FM, RTÉ Lyric FM and RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta as well as RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse, RTÉ jr & RTÉ Gold.
SAORSAT is available on the EUTELSAT KA-SAT 9A, which is a narrow-band satellite with a footprint on the island of Ireland. To receive Saorsat, you will need a satellite dish equipped with a Ka band LNB and a DVB-S2, Saorsat set-top-box.
2RN recommends that anyone wishing to access the SAORSAT service should seek the advice of a specialist satellite installer.
Saorsat uses a narrow-band satellite operating in the Ka band as opposed to the normal DTH Ku band (which Sky and Freesat use), with a spot beam being dedicated exclusively to Ireland.
You can find out more about Saorsat at www.saorsat.ie
Eutelsat KA-SAT 9A at 9.0° East
KA-SAT @ 9E
20.185 GHz, Left Circular Polarisation,
Astra 2F at 28.2° East
Radio 1, 2fm, Lyric fm and Raidió na Gaeltachta, are available on both the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms.
You can use any digital satellite receiver to listen to RTÉ Radio on the Astra 2F Satellite at 28.2° East.
In the UK, the stations are available on both the Sky and Freesat platforms.
RTÉ Radio Bitrates on the Astra 2F satellite
RTÉ Radio 1 – 192 kbps, Joint Stereo
RTÉ 2FM – 192 kbps, Joint Stereo
RTÉ Lyric fm – 192 kbps, Joint Stereo
RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta – 192 kbps, Joint Stereo
Astra 2F Satellite at 28.2° East
12.266 Mhz Horizontal Polarisation
Symbol Rate 27500
Spotbeam: European Spotbeam
RTÉ Radio Player
You can listen live to RTÉ Radio using the new RTÉ Radio Player. You can also use it to listen back to clips from various shows across RTÉ Radio.
The RTÉ Radio website provides many links to listen to clips and full shows from the family of RTÉ Radio stations.
If you have an internet radio connected to the net, you can browse through it’s directory to find the full compliment of RTÉ Radio services. Devices differ, but generally you can quickly find RTÉ Radio services by selecting Europe, followed by Ireland and finally selecting the station you desire. See your specific device’s instructions for more directions.
In addition to the FM receiver included on many modern phones, the following Apps are available for a selection of popular phones on the market:
- RTÉ Radio Player App for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android
- RTÉ Radio 1 App for iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- RTÉ 2fm App for iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- RTÉ Radio Pocket Player App for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android
RTÉ Radio Stations
RTÉ Radio 1
RTÉ Radio 1 (RTÉ Raidió 1) is the principal radio channel of Irish public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann and is the direct descendant of Dublin radio station 2RN, which began broadcasting on a regular basis on 1 January 1926. The station is a rare modern example of a mixed radio network, broadcasting a mixture of music and speech programming.
Radio 1 broadcasts a mixture of news, current affairs, features, arts coverage, drama, sport, music (from popular music favourites through country while Sunday Sport is hosted by Con Murphy and Jacqui Hurley (Hurley becoming the first female presenter of Sunday Sport). Morning Ireland – the station’s flagship news programme, on air from 7.00 to 9.00. John Murray Talk Based Entertainment on air from 09.00 to 10.00 Today with Pat Kenny – a lively current affairs magazine, broadcast between 10.00 and 12.00. The News at One – a round-up of all Irish news and sports, from 13:00 to 13:45 Liveline with Joe Duffy – phone-in discussion from 13.45 until 15.00. Drivetime – rolling news and talk (sport, popular culture, music and arts) between 17.00 and 20.00.
Its sports coverage includes Sport at Seven with Darragh Moloney Monday to Friday 19.00 to 19.30, Friday Sportsnight ended on the schedule in early 2009 due to financial reasons, while changes where introduced to Saturday & Sunday Sport in February 2009. Saturday Sport is now presented by John Kenny and Marty Morrisey from 14.00 to 18.00, while Sunday Sport is hosted by Con Murphy and Jacqui Hurley (Hurley becoming the first female presenter of Sunday Sport).
RTÉ Radio 1 is available in Ireland on 88-90FM and 252 kHz LW. The LW signal can also be received across the United Kingdom and large parts of Europe.
The FM service is also available online and from the Astra 2F satellite at 28° East transponder 29 (12.266 H).
Listeners can also hear a selection of RTÉ Radio 1 programmes on the WRN English Service for Europe and WRN English Service for North America. The VHF service of RTÉ Radio 1 is also available on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms in the UK. The LW version of the station differs from that on VHF, with significant additional sports coverage and religious programming. DAB broadcasts of the station began in the east of the country (on the Clermont Carn and Three Rock Mountain high power transmitters via the RTÉ DAB Multiplex) on 1 January 2006. RTÉ Radio 1 has been carried on shortwave in DRM during specific events, including the All Ireland finals.
The station’s tuning signal since 1936 has been the air O’Donnell Abú, although since the advent of 24-hour broadcasting in 1997, the tune has been played just once a day, as a prelude to the start of the day’s live broadcasting at 05:30 each morning (between 02:00 and 05:30, apart from the hourly news bulletins, Radio 1’s output is made up of selected repeats from earlier programmes).
RTÉ 2fm, or 2FM as it is commonly referred to, is RTÉ’s second national radio station. It broadcasts popular music programming aimed at a young audience.
RTÉ Radio 2, as it was originally known, began broadcasting on May 31, 1979. “Like Clockwork” by the Boomtown Rats was the first song on air, played by Larry Gogan. It was developed as a response by RTÉ to the pirate radio craze sweeping Dublin and the country. Its main inspiration in format was BBC Radio 1.
Its original slogan was “Radio 2 Comin’atcha” and as well as broadcasting popular music, it carried a number of other musical strands as well as news and current affairs.
Its original broadcast frequencies were 612 kHz MW (until 2004) and later, 90-92 MHz FM. Original DJs included Larry Gogan, who moved over from RTÉ Radio 1, Mark Cagney, Michael McNamara, Declan Meehan, Vincent Hanley, Ronan Collins, Gerry Ryan and Dave Fanning.An all-music, mostly rock, sister station of 2FM, “RTÉ 2XM”, operates on the RTÉ DAB Multiplex.
RTÉ Lyric fm
RTÉ lyric fm, part of Radio Telefís Éireann, it plays mainly classical and jazz music. The station, which is based in Limerick, was launched in 1999 and is available on FM in Ireland (96-99 FM), and on digital satellite and is listed on the Sky Digital EPG in the UK.
RTÉ lyric fm developed from FM3 Classical Music, which began broadcasting in the early 1980s. FM3 broadcast classical music on the Radio na Gaeltachta network at breakfast time, lunchtime and in the evenings.
The station was rarely marketed, except via promotions on RTÉ Radio 1, and had low listenership ratings. It was probably best known for occasionally simulcasting the stereo sound track of movies being shown on the RTÉ television channels prior to RTÉ’s deployment of NICAM digital stereo.
As Radio na Gaeltachta Expanded broadcast hours FM3’s service hours changed to 19:30 till 01:00. Eventually it stayed on air until breakfast time when RnaG came back on. In 1999, RTÉ put in place an additional national FM transmitter network, and it was decided to separate FM3 from Radio na Gaeltachta, and expand its remit to include other types of minority music. This was partly on the model of Classic FM in the UK. The resulting station was Lyric FM (since rebranded to: RTÉ lyric fm), launched in May 1999. It also moved from Dublin to Limerick as part of a policy of regionalisation.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s mandate is to provide a national Irish language radio service as part of RTÉ’s public broadcasting service. The station was first established to provide a comprehensive radio service for the people of the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region) and for Irish speakers nationwide and began broadcasting at 3pm on Easter Sunday, 2 April 1972.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2002. During the early years, broadcasting was restricted to a couple of hours a day and that limited service could only be received in Gaeltacht areas.
Transmission facilities and programming were gradually developed and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta is now available worldwide on the web. Since 1st October 2001, the station broadcasts 24 hours a day, with a wide range of news and current affairs, magazine programmes, music, sport, discussion and entertainment. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s livestream was launched in May 2000. Since then the station has been getting feedback on a regular basis from listeners in North America, Australia, UK, Europe, Moscow and Estonia. Since Tuesday, April 23rd 2003, all four RTÉ radio services are carried live on the Saorsat, Sky, Freeview in Northern Ireland and on Freesat in the UK.
RTÉ 2XM is a digital radio station of the Irish public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Initially the broadcaster placed the station on the digital terrestrial television trial service in late October 2007. Along with 5 other new digital stations, RTÉ Choice was launched on 1 December 2008. The station plays a broad range of music from rock, indie, metal, electronica, alternative and nu metal and also selection of live music with a particular focus on music content from festivals across Europe.
It was the first RTÉ digital radio station to have carried live content, with music from the Oxegen festival during July 2007 and the Electric Picnic and PlanetLove Summer Session festivals during September 2007. This continued in 2008 with the PlanetLove Winter Session in February. The station is available on Saorview Ireland’s free to air DTT service.
RTÉ Gold is an Irish radio station broadcasting on DAB. It can also be accessed on the internet via the RTÉ website. The station plays classic hits from top-selling artists spanning the decades from the 1950s to the 1980s.
A particular feature of the current scheduling on RTÉ Gold is the inclusion, next to hits, of album tracks not normally available in a competitive classic hits format.
Although essentially a playlist service, it does produce one presenter-led programme called Through The Looking Glass.
RTÉ Jr Radio is Ireland’s first children’s orientated radio station with a wide variety of programming from contemporary pop music, poetry, nursery rhymes, storytelling, dramas and more.
The station broadcasts daily between 07:00 to 21:00 (time-sharing the DAB slot with RTÉ Chill) on DAB and Saorview in the Republic of Ireland and globally through the RTÉ Radio Player.
The radio station is complimented by the RTÉjr television channel available on Saorview, Saorsat, Virgin Media Ireland, eVision, Aer TV and Sky Ireland.
RTÉ Pulse is an electronic dance music station from RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster. It broadcasts on the RTÉ DAB Multiplex in Ireland online worldwide and on the Irish Cable system UPC/NTL channel 943. It plays a varied mix of dance music. It started in April 2008, but had an official launch alongside its sister services on Dec 1st 2008.
Originally started as a jukebox service, with no presenters; it now carries live and pre-recorded shows from a number – currently 31 – of Irish and international DJs, including Will Kinsella, Djamel, Ronan Devitt, Paul Byrne, Brian Taffe, Orla Feeney, Al Redmond, and David Cronin. The service also occasionally carries live outside broadcasts, such as the 2008 Southern edition of PlanetLove.
On Wednesday nights programming is dedicated to listeners from the LGBT community, with three different shows presented by
Scott De Buitléir , Nick Randell and Gordon Hickey.
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra is an offshoot of Irish radio station RTÉ Radio 1. It broadcasts parts of RTÉ Radio 1’s regular schedule as well as sport, educational, and religious programmes.
Originally broadcast from the 100 kW medium wave transmitter at Tullamore, and previously from Athlone, this service ceased in March 2008.
The European satellite transmission ceased in January 2013, leaving only longwave, terrestrial digital (Saorview and DAB), and Saorsat. Of these, only the longwave signal is audible outside the country.