With so many TV viewing options now open to consumers, and satellite dishes making it possible for hundreds of channels to be beamed into the home, community television providers are finding it more difficult than ever to collect money from people.
The concept of free TV on computer as part of the ever expanding age of technology is also acting to spread the belief that all matters media, from news, music and TV, is now a free entitlement for consumers.
In a bid to address the issue, Mayo Community TV Ltd (MCTV ) is now warning householders that British channels particularly will be lost to them if payment for provision of services is not forthcoming. Cutting off such a service would particularly impact on older people who don’t want SKY channels or hundreds of new digital channels but just want to watch their favourite programmes.
According to Padraig Cunnane, MCTV still has very much a role to play in the county but could very easily cease to exist over fees due. Right now it accounts for the provision of deflector television reception to 90 per cent of the county plus parts of north Galway and west Sligo.
“Mayo Community Television Ltd is licensed to provide BBC1, BBC2, UTV and Channel 4 until December 31, 2012,” Mr Cunnane explained. “The directors of the company are committed to providing this service, which has been available in the west for over 30 years, as long as the public continue to support it. Until the last year or two people were very good entirely, but payments have now dropped off considerably. As long as people want the service and continue to support it we will provide it but, without funding, it will no longer remain viable.”
The annual contribution for the service is a very reasonable €70, which will not be increased. Mr Cunnane added there is no truth in the suggestion that MCTV is finished, now that the new free, state digital service, Saorview, is to become available over the next two years.
“Saorview will provide access to 12 television channels and digital radio channels but will not include the British channels,” he said. “The channels to be provided will only be turned on as a trial service, including RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, TG4 and RTÉ News Now and radio services RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ 2FM, RTÉ Lyric, RTÉ RnaG, RTÉ Pulse, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Choice, RTÉ Gold, and RTÉ Chill/Junior (www.saorview.ie )
“For people who wish to receive the British channels the choice will be to continue with the service provided by MCTV or pay the much greater cost of the satellite or pay to view digital services.”
Mayo Community TV will continue for as long as people support it through keeping the service financially viable, Mr Cunnane confirmed. “The directors have to keep the finances under continual review to ensure the company can meet all its outgoings, especially the very high electricity charges for the eight transmitters,” he said.
“Those wishing to make their contributions directly can continue to send them to Padraig Cunnane, Balla, or to Joe Gibbons, Westport, as many have done in the past.”