TV viewers plan to go free-to-air after analogue switch-off

16 May 2011

Some 16pc of Irish TV viewers – 256,000 homes – are rurally-based terrestrial TV viewers and over two thirds of them have indicated that they plan to opt for a free to air service post analogue switch-off rather than a pay TV service.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte today published a report on TV viewing methods in Ireland.

The report was prepared to assist the Department of Communications plan for analogue switch off in Ireland next year.

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

The report found that 16pc of TV homes (254,000 households) rely solely on terrestrial television.

Some 10pc have access to the Irish TV channels (Irish terrestrial) only while 6pc also have access to the UK channels (multi-terrestrial).

About 32pc 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.

The report indicated that satellite and cable are the dominant forms of TV access in Ireland today with 1.3m households using those services.

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.

Planning for analogue switch-off

“The B&A report has highlighted a number of important factors which I intend to take account of in the programme for analogue switch off,” Minister Rabbitte said.

“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.

“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.

“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,” Minister Rabbitte says.

post switchoff

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years