RTÉ to launch 24-hour online, mobile-accessible news channel (SBP – 8th June 2008)

Below is an article of mine from today’s Sunday Business Post. The piece is about RTÉ’s plan to launch a 24-hour news channel online this coming week, which will stream the broadcaster’s news and current affairs programming as well as repeat it throughout the day.

For the moment there’s only limited scope for unique content on the service – such as breaks for big stories or special events and short sport, business and entertainment updates which will come on stream by the end of June – however it does form the foundation of a bona fide news channel especially if it ends up getting broadcast on DTT.

The whole service is supposed to fit nicely into RTÉ’s media player, which is of particular interest to me. Details are sketchy at the moment but more will be revealed about that particular project in the coming months.

The article:

RTE is to use this week’s referendum to launch its new online streaming news service, RTE News Now. The service, which will function as an internet-based news channel, will be available on RTE.ie when it launches on Thursday, with a rollout on mobile phone networks also under discussion.

The channel will broadcast online 24 hours a day and will be shown in addition to news content already available on the broadcaster’s website. The service will consist of existing RTE news bulletins and current affairs programming, which will be simulcast live and repeated throughout the day, as well as breaking news stories and special events that might not get coverage on television.

The news service will form a central part of the planned RTE media player, which is currently in development. This new platform is expected to be similar to the recently launched BBC iPlayer, which allows viewers to re-watch and download previously aired programmes online.

‘‘RTE News Now will live stream all breaking news coverage from RT€1 and RT€2,” said a spokesman for RTE Publishing.’ ‘However, it will stream special events such as Oireachtas debates, which are not being broadcast on television.

‘‘All content will be produced by RTE and users will continue to be able to access all RTE news and current affairs programming on an on-demand basis on RTE.ie.”

According to the RTE spokesman, there will also be brief business, entertainment and sports updates produced exclusively for the News Now service by the end of June. The text-based news content already available on RTE.ie will also be factored into the new service as a ticker tape-style feed.

The broadcaster hopes to raise revenue from the venture through short advertisements, which will be shown before the main content begins. This approach is already used on RTE programmes that can be watched on demand on the website.

In addition to being online, RTE hopes to make the News Now service available on mobile networks at – or shortly after – launch, and is in discussion with carriers to facilitate this.

3 Mobile already offers its customers access to live and looped RTE news broadcasts at a cost of €2 per week, however neither O2 nor Vodafone offers such a facility.

At the moment, the service will be focused on RTE.ie and mobile networks, but the spokesman for RTE Publishing said there were plans to roll it out onto other digital platforms in the future.

It is likely that digital television will be one of the platforms under consideration, perhaps as part of the broadcaster’s overall plans for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

According to RTE’s internal statistics, the news section of RTE.ie is now the most popular part of the website, accounting for more than 11 million page impressions, or 23 per cent of overall site traffic, in April.

Some 34 per cent of those who accessed RTE.ie/news during the same month were based outside Ireland.

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