Irish cablers trumpet digital TV potential

Launch broadside against industry competish

DUBLIN — With transmission of digital television services in Ireland less than two years away, the national cable represen-tative organization has launched a broadside against its competitors and would-be competitors in the industry.

The Cable Communications Assn. of Ireland (CCAI), in a report launched Feb. 2, announced that it was the best-placed carrier system to serve Irish TV households with digital technology.

The CCAI represents all Republic of Ireland cable and microwave suppliers, with 550,000 subscribers (of 900,000 able to receive) currently on their books — a take-up rate of 61%. The CCAI claims that a digital multimedia platform of microwave and cable will be accessible to more than 95% of homes in Ireland. But 95% is the penetration figure that pubcaster RTE also is quoting for its 35-channel digital system by 2000.

In reality, despite an impressive compilation of aims, goals and statistics, the CCAI’s report really amounts to a lot of timely saber-rattling, with the industry in flux and operation of illegal rural “deflector” systems taking valuable revenue from the cable industry.

While RTE has operated unchallenged domestically as broadcaster since 1961, all the while it has been competing with British and Ulster channels for audiences. But what its competitors have their eyes on ultimately is a slice of RTE’s lucrative advertising pie, which brings in $122 million annually to the pubcaster.

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