Ireland’s public service broadcaster RTÉ has announced dramatic changes in the way it will offer live and on-demand TV.
- RTÉ One+1 and RTÉ2+1 to close
- Promises expanded choice of channels on new hybrid Saorview service
- RTÉ Player to get long-awaited refresh
- RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉjr Radio for the chop.
After a year in which RTÉ has been severely criticised over celebrity pay and the cost of its Dublin HQ, its new Stategic Reform Plan has set out big changes to the broadcaster as it seeks to tighten its belt, following a reduction in licence fee income.
Closure of TV channels and HD upgrade
Recognising changes to how viewers access content, its timeshift services RTÉ One+1 and RTÉ2 +1 will close by 2028.
By this time point, all remaining RTÉ channels will be upgraded to HD. At present, the main two channels are offered in HD, but its children’s and news services are not.
Closure of radio stations
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉjr Radio have been earmarked for closure. But RTÉ Gold will remain.
But RTÉ is considering launching a new Irish-language digital radio station aimed at 15-34 year olds.
RTÉ’s streaming service has received much bad publicity in recent years over its reliability.
The broadcaster has promised to transform RTÉ Player “to become one of the main ways people watch live programming, along with an extensive on-demand catalogue.”
It has also promised to improve the resilience of the service.
Additionally, new radio and news apps are to be launched in 2025.
Commitment to broadcasting free-to-air digital terrestrial television
It’s good news for viewers in Northern Ireland, as RTÉ says it will continue to make RTÉ One and RTÉ2 available via an aerial through the dedicated ‘NIMux’ Freeview multiplex. Currently, bandwidth constraints mean that these channels remain SD only. Overspill reception from the Republic is HD.
Meanwhile, RTÉ is seeking to launch a new hybrid broadband-terrestrial service from 2025 that will become the next version of Saorview.
RTÉ promises an “expanded choice” of free channels.
Its subsidary 2rn has been piloting DVB-I, which would allow internet streamed channels to sit alongside existing services broadcast terrestrially. Free of existing bandwidth restraints, this would allow more HD channels, and full HD resolution (1920×1080) compared to the 1440×1080 resolution currently used on Saorview.
▶️ Context: With the future use of terrestrial frequencies uncertain, platform operators across Europe are scrambling to develop a pathway to migrate audiences to streaming. In many European countries, DVB-I and 5G Broadcast options are being developed. In the UK, a free streaming service called Freely is under development.
The bitter pill
In order to achieve savings, 20% of staff will be made redundant. While its Dublin HQ will not close, it will be downsizing, with more production going out to bases in Cork, Galway and Limerick.
And celebrities working for RTÉ can expect their pay to capped at no more than what the Director-General Kevin Bakhurst earns.