Can I get the Irish RTE Channels on Free to Air Satellite Box

Roger asks;

Can the Irish RTE channels be received on a free to air satellite box with all other channels and how much does it cost also multi room viewing

Our answer;


See our Saorsat section


  • Original advice given below
  • This is not relevant to the question any longer as Saorsat has launched
  • See link above


Is RTE TV free on Satellite not ?

  • Currently RTE is only be broadcast on Satellite by Sky in an encrypted format.
    • This means that you can only get the Irish Channels on satellite if you subscribe to sky (a minimum of 22 Euro a month)

Why don't RTE just broadcast for free ?

This all comes down to copyright and footprint. If RTE (and indeed TV3) decided to broadcast for free off the Astra 2 satellite so that people could use their existing satellite dish to pick up the signal this would lead to the following problem:

  • Everyone in the UK with a sky or Freesat dish would then be able to get RTE for free, and this would mean they could look at the Champions league, the Premiership and the GAA matches for free.
  • So RTE would in effect have to pay for the rights to broadcast to 60 million people rather than the 4 million or so in Ireland.

Plans to Broadcast RTE for free on Satellite ?

There is 2 possible future (how far away or if at all I don't know) options


  • RTE will broadcast from a different satellite with a very tight footprint aimed at Ireland.
  • This will solve the copyright issue
  • But it will involve having to install a second satellite dish & using a diseqc swtich
  • This may or may not happen (money problems) and is not a great technical solution (who wants two dishes)

2. Real Digital

  • Plan by a UK company to launch a rival to sky using the the Astra satellite
  • They will broadcast the Irish channels encrypted but will issue a card to Irish residents to allow them to pick up the Irish channels for free.
  • This is currently bogged down in legal issues (with RTE) and possibly funding issues (I suspect but I am not sure)

So Right Now how can I get the Digital Irish Channels for Free ?

Right now the best option is to get the Irish through the New Irish Terrestrial Digital TV Service - Saorview.

This service is broadcast from a series of transmitters around Ireland, with the main ones shown on the RTE Digital Transmitters page.

You use a UHF TV aerial to pick up the signal and either an MPEG4 TV or an MPEG4 HD receive the signal.

You can buy either as:

  • Digtial Terrestrial Receiver
  • or full Digital TV Receiver and Aerial Kit
    • This service is available right now and comes with a full 7 day EPG
    • It is possible to add a Hard Drive to allow you to pause, record and rewind live TV.

Follow links to view videos that accompany each of these products

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