BAI says RTÉ carriage model not sustainable
11.27 Europe/London, August 19, 2011 By Julian Clover

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has warned the proposed cost structure for carriage envisaged by RTÉ/RTÉNL means that only the public broadcaster itself would be in a position to be carried on Ireland’s DTT platform Saorview.

In its Report and Recommendations the Authority says the current model that charges content providers on a pro-rata basis across the DTT platform rather than on an individual multiplex basis is not sustainable.

The report also suggests that the majority of commercial services, including three proposed by national broadcaster TV3, will not be ready to launch until close to analogue switch off in October 2012, bringing into question the requirement to introduce the second RTÈ multiplex in 2011.

RTE has based its decision on the first DTT multiplex already being full, meaning that the cost associated with each multiplex would be borne by the content providers on each multiplex. It means that if only one television channel was on the second multiplex, the entire operating costs of the second multiplex (€3.5m to €5m per annum) would be borne by the single content provider. Were the content provider to be included on the first multiplex the equivalent cost would be €500, 000 per year for a standard definition channel.

By making the calculation on a cross-platform basis transmission provider RTÉNL is guaranteed a fixed income. The total DTT platform cost of between €8 and €11m annually would be divided between the content providers on the platform and not on a per multiplex basis.

This means a content provider would have a variable and unpredictable annual transmission cost for a standard definition channel of between circa €600K and €1m per annum depending on the total number of content providers on the platform. The annual DTT transmission costs for an HD channel be variable and could range from circa €1.2m to €2.4m per annum.