I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me to raise again the issue of television services. We are familiar with the concept of the move from analogue to digital broadcasting but I reiterate that there is a concern in the north west on the part of some people who cannot get RTE. I am aware that a memorandum of mutual understanding was signed between the two jurisdictions on the island to work to maximise on the transfer from an analogue to digital service in that RTE would become available to those who want it in the North yet we have people in Donegal who cannot get RTE.
Two issues arise. The first is to do with the work going on at North-South Ministerial Council level to ensure the work taking place in the Northern stations will improve the position not only for the Six Counties but for the nine counties of Ulster. The related issue that arises is that recently a number of people are having great difficulty with the BBC, UTV and Channel 4 service, but particularly BBC. That is not something they have had a difficulty with until now. I have been in touch with the authorities in the North and they say that any work they are doing on their stations has not impacted on signals and that it is not their issue. I have been in touch with RTE also and they say they have no responsibility for BBC, therefore, they could not have been doing anything either.
We are in a difficult position because we are not sure why this is happening. We know there is no snow outside — I got sunburn in Buncrana on Monday — but we are definitely getting a snowy image on our television screens and coming into the winter, we want to reverse that trend and get rid of the snow, so to speak.
It is very simple. There is a transfer of the service. A number of people are very anxious about this issue. A number of people have spent a good deal of money trying to find alternative solutions for the preservation of all stations. We are ecumenical in the north west. We tend to watch RTE as well as BBC and UTV. We want to maintain the capacity and facility to do that. There are many questions about what will happen. We see the demise of some stations whereas we do not see the advent of the stations for which we are paying the licence fee in many parts of the county. There is no information whether if one buys a box at this time it will cover the position when the changeover takes place or whether a person should pay for a satellite service or some other interim solution. There is no sense that we will know, until the switchover takes place later this year, the exact scale of either the success or demise of the television service in my county.
I tabled this matter on the Adjournment because the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, has had a number of interactions at the North-South Ministerial Council. I have raised this issue in the Seanad and although I did so specifically about Inishowen, since then people from Milford and other areas outside Letterkenny have asked to be included because they are in the same situation. It is important, if we are having interactions at North-South level to improve the quality of television coverage for those in the North, that we deal with those who are even further north than the North and ensure they are accommodated as well.
I would appreciate it if the Minister of State would outline any information that has become available at North-South level. I would also appreciate receiving, if it is available, an information note outlining the current situation, the timeframe in which the changeover will take place, the system under which the service operates and how the new system will impact. There is much uncertainty and it is very unfair to let that uncertainty remain. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources should be working with the service providers and with its counterpart in the North, given there is a North-South dimension and the signal knows no border inasmuch as we do not know much of a border either. A little information would ease minds. Whatever about people fiddling with remote controls and trying their best to hang off the satellite as it were, others are not in a position to do that which is unfair on them.