Irish DTT on the brink after Easy TV refuses BAI offer

13:30 Monday Update: The prospects for a commercial DTT service in Ireland have been dealt a potentially fatal blow after the third and final bidder for the service declined to open talks with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

“The Easy TV consortium (comprising RTÉ and Liberty Global Inc) has informed the BAI on Wednesday 12 May 2010 that it is declining their offer to pursue negotiations regarding the Commercial DTT Multiplex Licence,” read a statement issued on behalf of Easy TV. “Having carefully considered the current opportunity, both parties agreed, due to the significant lapse in time and the altered circumstances since Easy TV’s original application in 2008, that they do not wish to pursue the joint venture at this time.”

The Liberty Global-RTE consortium Easy TV had been considering its decision over the past fortnight. Negotiations with OneVision, led by the telco Eircom, broke down in April, and the Swedish Boxer handed back its licence in May 2009. When the It’s TV project led by former RTE executive Peter Brannigan is included there have now been a total of four attempts to launch commercial DTT services in the Republic.

It is two years since the original beauty contest was held and the BAI must now choose whether or not to repeat the exercise.

RTE, which will at least run a public service multiplex, has been ordered by communications minister Eamon Ryan to make its free-to-air DTT service available to 90% of the population by October 31, 2010.