RTÉ is planning its own version of iPlayer for catch-up TV revolution

1 Oct 2008

Ireland’s state broadcaster RTÉ is planning to release its own catch-up TV media player product similar to the BBC iPlayer by the first quarter of 2009, RTÉ’s director general Cathal Goan told a major digital dividend conference today.

Speaking at ComReg’s (the Commission for Communications Regulation) Digital Dividend Conference, which was attended by EU Information Society Commissioner, Vivian Reding, Goan said RTÉ was progressing rapidly with plans to switch off analogue and bring about a new era in digital terrestrial television.

In terms of allocating wireless spectrum for use by broadcasters and telecoms companies, Goan said spectrum wasn’t necessarily an unlimited asset and that “we should challenge policy-makers to act expeditiously” on the matter.

“Radio spectrum is of exceptional cultural and economic value to all of us. The opportunities are manifold.”

Goan said the payback from digital terrestrial television to RTÉ will be the broadcaster’s ability to interact with its audience across audio, video and digital text platforms, including mobile. He added that RTÉ has already trialed DVB/H, but is open to other mobile TV standards such as DAB TV.

“We’ll be ready to launch digital terrestrial television in 2009, as well as deploying services on cable and satellite platforms.”

In relation to anytime, catch-up TV services, Goan said that at present RTÉ has a seven-day TV and radio archive, as well as audio and video podcasts. “We have over 100 podcast titles free to download from RTÉ, and in May these attracted 648,000 downloads – 45pc from overseas.”

According to Goan, RTÉ’s version of the iPlayer – tipped in the UK for leading to a spike in nationwide broadband demand – is already built and will launch in January, “resources permitting”.

“It will give us the opportunity to put RTÉ content on a variety of devices such as set-top boxes, PCs mobile phones and PDAs,” Goan added.

“We will allow for modifications that will make it suitable for international consumption at the time of launch,” Goan told the conference.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the BBC iPlayer – RTÉ’s own version of the catch-up TV media player is due for launch in early 2009

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