Ireland’s transmitter network could be put up for auction, following a report by the State assets review group.
Communications minister Eamon Ryan said he was opposed to the privatisation of the country’s state-owned electricity, gas and postal services, but it would be right to look at the future of RTE’s network division.
It is not the first time that a sale has been mooted. In 2002 plans to sell off the network were dropped after the potential sale price slipped from €70 million to €30 million.
Ryan made his comments as he outlined plans for Ireland’s digital switchover, which he said was on course to complete by the end of 2012. He expressed confidence that RTE had sufficient finance to meet the €70 million cost of upgrading the network of 51 transmitters. However, he expressed disappointment that there would be no commercial services following successive failures in bringing in a partner from the private sector.
It is anticipated that 98% of the country will be served by terrestrial transmitters, 97.2% of the population being covered by the second quarter of 2011.
RTE is planning a ‘Freesat-style’ service to cover outlying areas.