To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date and at what time the Memorandum of Understanding between them and the Government of the Republic of Ireland on Irish Language Broadcasting was signed; by which Ministers; and at what time on what date the corresponding press release was issued. [HL1803]
A Memorandum of Understanding on Digital Television, which provides a framework for continuing co-operation on broadcasting issues on the island of Ireland, was signed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, on Monday 1 February, at approximately 3.30 pm. A press release was issued subsequent to the signing, at 3.40 pm.
The MoU is intended to ensure a smooth transition to digital terrestrial television; ensure the widespread availability of TG4 (the Irish language channel) in Northern Ireland; and facilitate the widespread availability of BBC services in Ireland and of RTE services in Northern Ireland.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are required by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on Irish language broadcasting to postpone the switch-off of public service broadcasting analogue services in Northern Ireland until an equivalent digital terrestrial television service exists in the Republic; if so, whether that will have any effect on the switch-off date in the rest of the United Kingdom; and whether they have estimated the additional cost of each possible year of postponement. [HL1898]
The MoU does not require the UK Government to postpone the digital switchover programme in the UK to bring it into line with the plans of the Government of Ireland. Rather it provides that the two Governments should co-operate to ensure a smooth transition to digital switchover. In addition, it provides that the two Governments will co-operate to ensure the widespread availability of TG4 (the Irish language channel) in Northern Ireland and facilitate the widespread availability of BBC services in Ireland and of RTE services in Northern Ireland.