Southcoast applies for Irish DTV licence



Irish community rebroadcaster Southcoast Television has applied to the Irish regulator, ComReg, for a licence to operate a digital service.

The firm currently transmits through over 20 transmitters to around 10,000 subscribers, in Counties Cork, Waterford and Kerry, with subscribers paying €65 a year for BBC1, BBC2, HTV and C4 on its analogue service. By going digital, Southcoast intends extend its service throughout Munster, according to its Chairman, John Hurley.

The planned digital service will cost between €6 million and €8 million to introduce, and the offering will consist of 60 television channels and 20 radio channels. A basic package of about 20 channels will cost €16 a month, on top of an installation fee of €110, while Southcoast says that the channels in its premium package will be 'very competitively priced'. The group plans to introduce Internet services and also wants to introduce video-on-demand but has no plans for a phone service.

According to the regulator, ComReg, the digital MMDS licensing scheme isn't really a planned development of local services, as the 'first come, first served' local broadcasting scheme is dependant on spectrum availability in the 11.7 to 12.5 GHz band and up to the applicant to propose which geographical district they want to cover. However, ComReg admits that the local digital scheme will mean increased competition in the retail multichannel television delivery market, and could undermine Sky, the two cablecos and the Irish Government's plans for a national DTT service. BSkyB has already warned ComReg that future local digital services such as that planned by Southcoast, could interfere with its own services, since the ground-based local services will operate between 11.7 GHz and 12.5 GHz; the same as used by satellite services.