Ireland: Two-thirds unaware of ASO
By Colin Mann

Ireland’s Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has published a report on TV viewing methods in Ireland which reveals that only about one-third of Irish terrestrial TV homes were aware of analogue switch off at the time the research was undertaken.

The report, which was commissioned from Behaviour and Attitudes, surveyed 1,100 TV households. It provides an independent analysis of the status of TV viewing habits in Ireland, as of end November 2010.

The report was prepared to assist the Department of Communications plan for analogue switch off in Ireland. The report primarily focuses on TV viewers who rely on the analogue terrestrial TV network for their TV reception.

Among the report’s findings:

- 16 per cent of TV homes (c.254,000 households) rely solely on terrestrial television. 10 per cent have access to the Irish TV channels (Irish terrestrial) only while six per cent also have access to the UK channels (multi-terrestrial).
- About 32 per cent of TV homes (511,000) have an outdoor aerial of some type so that many more TV viewers may use the terrestrial services on secondary TV sets in the home.
- Only about one-third of Irish terrestrial TV homes were aware of analogue switch off at the time the research was undertaken.
- Rural areas throughout the country are most reliant on terrestrial TV, with over two-thirds of terrestrial TV households in rural areas.
- Most terrestrial households (over two thirds) have indicated that they plan to opt for a free-to-air service post analogue switch-off rather than a pay-TV service.

The report also provides useful information on the economic profile of TV households and on their media preferences and preferences for receiving information about analogue switch-off.

Rabbitte said the report has highlighted a number of important factors that he intended to take account of in the programme for analogue switch-off. “My priority here is to ensure that the TV viewing public is given the information and assistance it needs to upgrade to digital in advance of analogue switch-off. I will be discussing with my Government colleagues practical measures to assist in the switch over which, as was announced last autumn, is due to take place in Q4 2012,” he said.

“Digital Television will improve the television experience for TV viewers, with more channels, high-definition pictures, higher-quality sound, on-screen menus and digital teletext,” he explained. “More significantly for Ireland, the switch-off of the analogue network releases valuable spectrum which we can use for wireless broadband and new mobile services and to aid Ireland’s economic recovery. “