Monday, 27 February 2012

TG ... a ceathair ... a cúig ... a sé ...

The BBC reports on another step towards universal availability of TG4 in Northern Ireland: the creation of an RoI multiplex on Freeview to carry the Irish-language station along with RTE 1 and 2. This is undoubtedly good news that will bring unalloyed satisfaction to all proponents of linguistic diversity and cultural choice.

The less satisfying part is that, some 14 years after the Good Friday Agreement promised us TG4, and months after the final date of the Northern Ireland analogue switchoff — 24 October 2012 — was made known, there still seems to be no inkling of when the much-vaunted multiplex will actually become available. In practical terms, that could happen immediately after the discontinuation of the analogue signal, but the BBC article seems to suggest that the Republic, which is working to its own digital timetable, will need time to fulfil its end of the bargain.

Quite apart from the question of whether RTE 1 and 2, which did not merit a mention in the GFA, should be allowed to hold up wider reception of TG4, why on earth should TG4's progress be dependent on the engineers of the Republic? Twenty-eight years on from Bunscoil Phobal Feirste receiving British Government funding for the first time, and 23 years after the establishment of Ultach Trust, it seems that large parts of language policy in the North are still subject to the vagaries, goodwill and luck of spillover from the South.

One point, however, is clear: in order to receive TG4, you may need a new Freeview box, since it is to be broadcast using the DVB-T2 standard normally reserved for HD programmes.

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