RTÉ agrees to stay on Sky



At a recent meeting between BSkyB and RTÉ, initiated at the request of RTÉ, it was agreed that the four Irish terrestrial channels should remain in their present Irish Sky EPG positions - 101 to 104.

Despite being contracted to stay with Sky until 2006, RTÉ has serious concerns over the BBC's forthcoming 'Free-sat' service, whose footprint will cover the whole of Ireland. Sky now has nearly 300,000 Irish subscribers, and RTE faces a possible mass exodus of viewers to the BBC's free DTH service.

Sky sources say that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for RTÉ to ride both Free-sat and Sky platforms at once.

RTÉ's director general, Bob Collins, has been in regular contact with his BBC counterpart, Greg Dyke, over the question of content rights. If RTÉ did opt for the free-sat service, Collins says that the best solution to the rights issue would be for channels in Britain and Ireland to work together in purchasing joint rights.

However, RTÉ's fears may be exaggerated, according to some sources, since UK terrestrial channels are already seen in 75 to 80 per cent of Irish TV homes and that this hasn't affected the way in which separate rights are negotiated for Ireland.