Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007

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The Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 is an Act of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament). It deals with Irish Analogue broadcasting systems and the amendment of legislation on Digital Terrestrial Television dating back to 2001. This act amends previous acts, in particular the Broadcasting Act 2001. It was enacted in April 2007.

About the Act[edit]

The Act gives Irish national public service broadcasters, Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ) and TG4, digital terrestrial television obligations and also mandates the licensing of multiplexes for carriage on the RTÉ multiplex of Irish free-to-air channels (one, later two multiplexes, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland for other interested broadcasters using free-to-air and pay-tier multiplexes (three, later four) and ComReg. (ComReg would regulate non-big screen TV type services such as Mobile TV.)

It addition to digital television broadcasting and analogue television switch-off it gives RTÉ new obligations requiring RTÉ to set up and cater through a digital television channel carrying programmes across various platforms such as terrestrial, satellite, cable and IPTV providing television programmes to Irish citizens living abroad.

Such a channel is intended to carry domestic created programmes through a channel under the working title RTÉ International.

Background[edit]

DTT was expected to be up and running in 2002 but with the collapse of ITV Digital, IT's TV was unable to get funding necessary to cover its fees and rollout the network that was envisaged as RTÉ holding a minority stake in the transmission network of IT's TV. RTÉ DTTV tests were carried out between 1998 and 2001 using Three Rock transmitter on channel 26, but these stopped along with the pilot Digital Audio Broadcasting pilot around this time. One applicant was announced by the Commission for Communications Regulation's (ComReg) predecessor, Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation. RTÉ broadcasts RTÉ, Network 2 (Now RTÉ 2), TV3 and TG4 with two other channels being used on occasion. Tara TV was carried by RTÉ on one of the spare channels.

No EPG information was carried but a wireless return path (DVB-TRC) was tested meaning that no phone-line would be needed for the digibox for subscription services. This is now deemed unnecessary expense to have, though TG4 express an interest in its incorporation into rollout.

RTÉ also ran a transmitter on Band 3 at Three Rock on Channel D for VHF tests and intended to have a 2 way channel allow the vierwers home aerial to send a signal back to the DTTV transmitter rather than the phone line being needed. [ICDG, 2007]

Thirteen transmitters are the backbone of 92% network coverage. These are Kippure, Mount Leinster, Mullaghanish, Spur Hill, Maghera, Woodcock Hill, Truskmmore, Hollywell Hill, Moville, Cairn Hill, Three Rock, Clermont Carn and lastly Kilduff. Other in-fill transmitters are also used to cover remoter areas of the countries in which to provide coverage. [RTÉNL, 2007]

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Test has been running since August 2006 and ran until August 2008. The pilot is open to 1,000 users chosen by a research company of 500 from around the Three Rock Transmitter in Dublin and 500 from Clermont Carn upgraded transmitter in County Louth. BT Ireland got the broadcast contract and NEC UK supply the transmission equipment.

Four multiplexes are being tested for use. 1 is for O2 Ireland and 3 Ireland called the DVB Multiplex uses Channel 26 to provide scrambled or encrypted channels only available to the DVB-Handheld enabled phone users.

As far as the Departmental approach to Irish DTT goes, an Introductory Brief of the 15th of June 2007 was given to the new Communications Minister, Eamon Ryan TD and is available under the Freedom of Information, with sensitive parts, blacked out as is common practice in such requests. In page 4 under a paragraph on DTT the pilot is described as underway, but puts forward the view that continued progress is required on both it and formal arrangements in the coming months would be needed to ensure the analogue system is replaced nationwide called "analogue switchoff".

In page 7 it is outlined that Communications deals with Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Postal Sectors, divided into Broadcasting Policy, Communications (Business and Technology), Communications (Regulatory and Postal) and Communications (Development) Divisions within the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.

Two further paragraphs are not available. In page 8 the Broadcasting Expenditure for the period is €259.537 million with €0.705 for programme administration. Broadcasting Policy and is responsible for the legislative and regulatory framework for broadcasting in the Republic of Ireland. It has corporate governance responsibility for RTÉ Group, TG4, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. ComReg comes under the Communications (Regulatory and Postal) division of the Department. The agencies of those above are set out in page 21. In particular ComReg has a remit that covers TV services and from mobile phone networks.

Future broadcasting acts regarding a regulator of content for RTÉ and commercial TV companies in Ireland[edit]

A broadcasting bill went into eConsultation which was concluded on 18 April 2007 that foresees the establishment of a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and would amend RTÉ Authority provisions. That bill would be expected to be enacted during 2008 and is part of the priority legislative Programme: 2007-2008 Proposals and will involve a new content regulator taking on the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and RTÉ Authority role. Therefore it can be foreseen that RTÉ Authority duties under the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act may possibly become duties of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, or may become part of the new RTÉ structure duties that that Broadcasting Bill 2007 may become in a Broadcasting Act of 2008 (title or date of enactment not yet known) State aid issues related to RTÉ and TG4 funding are also part of the Broadcasting Policy.[dated info]

The Broadcasting Bill 2006 will cover the dissolution of the RTÉ Authority, BCI, BCC and allow for transition arrangements, exemption from stamp duty, funding of the BAI by broadcasters, and the rules governing state support to RTÉ and TG4 under EC Directive 97/36/EC on state aid following government consultation with the Commission and EU Parliament. (Official Journal of EU. No. L. 202/60 of 30 July 1997).

The Act will also deal with TV license definitions and enforcements, codes and contract awards. It primarily will deal with State Aid concerns following on from the TV3 complaint to the Commission regarding public broadcaster license fee usage rules.

With regard to Digital Terrestrial Television and analogue switch-off, the Department of Communications has identified that Irish DTT is the only system that can provide "better quality, new services, and more channel... that can be regulated under Irish Law." Large scale public awareness is identified by the department. It outlined that in 1999 the Republic of Ireland decided its approach to introducing DTT with the Broadcasting Act 2001 being enacted. The model adopted elsewhere was attempted but after a public tender competition the award to run the licenses failed in 2003.

The next move happened in 2005 when the Department of Communications decided on a DTT pilot programme to start roll-out of the service in the Republic of Ireland and to help develop momentum regarding DTT in the consumer and private sector. Government approved and the trial is now up and running in Dublin and Louth using a three-year budget of €10 million, broadcasting on four multiplexes from Three Rock and Clermont Carn mountains. Twelve TV channels and also radio channels are provided and higher definition TV was trialled in July 2007 of the All-Ireland Hurling Final.

A Pilot Stakeholders Group exists to inform those involved in it and the department regarding issues that could be similar in a national roll-out. Under the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007, RTÉ has a duty to roll out a DTT multiplex nationally carrying RTÉ 1, RTÉ 2, TV3, TG4 and possibly Channel 6. The BCI can allocate three other multiplexes which it is expected to put out to license by January 2008. Within the next year and a half, 20 to 30 channels are expected on Irish DTT.

In its Digital Switchover Plan, the Broadcasting Section of the Department of Communications identified the benefits that Irish citizens can benefit with increased entertainment offerings, additional sources of information and new forms of interaction and a potential means of government and public sector information. Thus digital television could be a driver of business and economic development across many sectors in the view of the Department of Communications (page 3 Intentions with Regard to the Introduction of Digital Television in Ireland). It identifies the Irish Government's role in point 16, but that Ireland is unusual due to its separate geography from mainland Europe and the issues of spectrum usage and satellite transmission. Political, economic and geographical links with Northern Ireland affect broadcasting policies and UK TV is popular in the Republic of Ireland as a result, split between cable, satellite and analogue signal overspill. Ireland has he second highest penetration of satellite in Europe but Sky its main operator is unregulated in the Republic of Ireland.

The Department of Communication also identified that broadband and digital TV contains synergies with data and telephony services. To that end, the Department is involved in a National Broadband Scheme to cover the telecoms infrastructure upgrade costs for the remaining 10% of the Republic of Ireland who for demographic and commercial telecom investment reasons would otherwise not get broadband. The Department has not proposed an analogue switchover date as yet, though the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act gives the responsibility for the BCI foreseeably (BAI) to report when digital multiplex coverage for the RTÉ multiplex and other multiplexes are near universally covered and when analogue switchover can then be recommended and a date decided upon. In the next section the legislation underpinning Irish digital[clarification needed]

Recent legislation[edit]

The Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 makes provision in relation to broadcasting. It deals with the supply and transmission of programme material and other data by digital means. It also deals with a combination of such programme material in relation to the broadcasting of certain services to Irish communities outside the Island of Ireland. It deals with the discontinuance of certain broadcasting services by analogue means and confers additional functions on RTÉ, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and Teilífis na Gaeilge (TG4) to confer power subject to license on Telífis na Gaeilge and amends the Broadcasting Authority Acts 1960 to 2001 and certain other enactments and related matters.

Some definitions are used in the Act such as multiplex, programme material, sound broadcasting multiplex, television multiplex and television programme service contract. These warrant further explanation, as terms frequently referred to hereafter.

A multiplex is an electronic system which combines programme material and related and other data in a digital form and the transmission of that material and data by means of wireless telegraphy, either directly or indirectly for reception by the general public.

Channels and associated channel data such as interactive services related to that channel in effect can be broadcast on a transmission network multiplex subject to Broadcasting Commission of Ireland license.

Sound broadcasting multiplex means a multiplex in which programme material is mostly sound orientated and television broadcasting multiplex is likewise mainly television broadcasting.

The Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 repeals Section 24 of the Broadcasting Act 1990, Section 4 of the Broadcasting Act 2001, Section 10 of the Broadcasting Authority Act 1960, and of the Broadcasting Acts 1960 to 2001. Section 20 of the Communications Regulation Act 2001 is also repealed as is Section 20 of the Radio and Television Act 1998 and Section 45 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1926 to 1988.

The preamble of the Act makes provision for broadcasting maters, for the supply of programme material, transmission of that material and of other data by digital means and in relation to broadcasting certain services to Irish communities outside the Island of Ireland. It also makes provision for the discontinuance of certain broadcasting services transmitted by analogue means, and confers additional functions on the Commission for Communications Regulation, Radio Telífís Éireann, Telifís na Gaeilge (still TG4's legal name) and confers powers subject to license on Teilifís na Gaeilge and amend the Broadcasting Authority Acts 1960 to 2001 and certain other enactments on 10 April 2007.

Sections of the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007[edit]

  • Section 1 of the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 is arranged as follows: 1 gives a short title, collective understanding, what matters are dealt with and when it the Act commences.
  • Section 2 relates to terms used which were briefly explained in the previous page of this document (interpretation).
  • Section 3 gives the RTÉ Authority functions.
  • Section 4 gives the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) new functions;
  • Section 5 gives the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) new duties, in relation to digital terrestrial television multiplexes.
  • In Section 6 new duties are given in relation to digital terrestrial sound broadcasting to ComReg.
  • Section 7 details regulations relating to fees by applications and procedures for same.
  • Section 8 relates to applications for multiplex contracts.
  • Section 9 relates to deciding of applications for award of multiplex contracts.
  • Section 10 relates to terms and conditions of multiplex contracts.
  • Section 11 relates to analogue switch-off and Sections 12 to 16 deal with repeals of Sections of the Broadcasting Act 2001 primarily in 12, Section 12, in 13, Section 16, in 14 Section 28, in 15 Section 32, in 16 Section 45 and 17 deals with repeals while 18 deals with expenses regarding administration of this Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007. (End of page 1 of the Act)

External links[edit]

  • [1] The Irish Government Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources website, section on broadcasting acts in the Republic of Ireland
  • Oireachtas, 2007 The Houses of the Oireachtas, "Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 No.15 of 2007, [2], Published: 18 April 2007, Accessed: 25 October 2007
  • [3] BCI evolutation into BAI planned for 2008
  • [4] RTE.ie/business "Bill sets up new broadcasting watchdog" Accessed: 14 May 2008.
  • Oireachtas, 2008 The Houses of the Oireachtas, [5] Broadcasting Bill 2008 to establish the BAI to take over BAI, RTÉ Authority, Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and Broadcasting Complaints Commission duties, and establish RTÉ and TG4 (previously Téilifis na Gaeilge) as corporate semi states and establish Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Oireachtas TV) and Irish Film Channel (Irish Film Board/Board Scannan na hEireann).
  • [6] Consultation on DTT Multiplexes, Commission for Communications Regulation (radiowave spectrum regulator).
  • [7] Commission for Communications Regulation, "Response to Licensing Digital Terrestrial Television", Document 07/90
  • [8] Commission for Communications Regulation, " License for Digital Terrestrial Television", Document 07/90a.
  • [9] Commission for Communications Regulation, "Technical Conditions for Digital Terrestrial Television", Document 07/90b.
  • [10] Commission for Communications Regulation, "ComReg published License framework for Digital Terrestrial Television", Document: PR09 1107.
  • [11] Silicon Republic.com "DTT licences will cost operators €114k", by John Kennedy
  • [12] Department of Communications commencement order of the Act 15 by the previous Minister for Communications, Ireland in April 2007
  • [13] Information on ComReg's role in Irish broadcasting spectrum regulation
  • [Broadcasting Commission of Ireland DTT license applicants proposals http://www.bci.ie/DTT/licensing.html