Broadcasters and telecoms operators wishing to achieve licences to operate digital terrestrial television (DTT) networks across Ireland will be expected to pay €114,000 for a multiplex licence. Four licences will be made available for bidding.
But, according to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), there will be a 50pc discount available during a start-up phase that will extend until 1 July 2012 after which the full fee will apply.
Members of the EU are expected to switch off their analogue TV signal networks by 2012 but the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD has urged an earlier switch-off. Nations like the UK are planning to switch off analogue in either 2009 or 2010.
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) will hold a competition for four multiplex licences that will be awarded by ComReg for a term of 12 years.
ComReg said a key factor in awarding the licences will be the rollout arrangements proposed by bidders.
RTÉ, for example, is required by the Broadcasting Amendment Act, 2007 to provide a DTT network equivalent in reach to its current analogue network.
"These licences will enable the evolution of full digital terrestrial television in Ireland," said the chairperson of ComReg, Mike Byrne.
"DTT has the capacity to carry much more content than the current analogue signals, enabling viewers to access additional content and to interact with programming," Byrne added.
ComReg says it intends to proceed with finalising the first DTT licence that will go to RTÉ and issue it in the first half of 2008.
A request for licences from the BCI is expected to be issued next year.
By John Kennedy