The Minister with responsibility for broadcasting, Sile de Valera, has indicated that a newspaper report that she will be asking the Government to instruct RTÉ to privatise its transmission network, is substantially true. The Minister said that there had been certain difficulties with RTÉ in relation to the digital network and she was introducing amendments to the Broadcasting Bill which would have to be approved by the cabinet.
The Taoiseach told the Dáil this morning that, contrary to media reports, the Government had not made a decision to sell off RTÉ's transmission network. Bertie Ahern was replying to a question from the Socialist Party deputy Joe Higgins, who asked if this was the first step in the privatisation of the station. The Deputy was supported in his questioning by Labour's Michael D Higgins, who pointed out that the Broadcasting Bill, now before the Dáil, did not provide for the sale of the transmission system. Mr Ahern said the Government had made no decision on that issue and there was no such proposal before the Government.
According to a report in today's Irish Independent, RTÉ will no longer have any involvement or control over national transmission for either the existing system or the new planned digital system. Michael D Higgins told the Dáil today that any such move would be a major blow to democracy.