UK-headquartered satellite giant BSkyB is planning to increase its presence in Ireland in a bid to exploit the lack of competition in the country’s digital market.

The broadcaster has already won the rights to the Republic of Ireland national soccer team’s home matches for the next five years, as well as coverage of the final of the FAI Cup, Ireland’s premier soccer knockout competition. In addition, the Sky Digital service intends to include more Irish channels in its package to try to build on the 70,000 subscribers it has attracted in Ireland since September.

“We want to be able to offer the widest quality choice of channels to all our Irish subscribers – regardless of whether they live north or south of the border,” explained BSkyB’s chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein. “We would welcome channels such as RTE 1, Network 2, TV3, TG4 and UTV on to the digital satellite platform.”

BSkyB has also reached a deal with UK public broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation to distribute its flagship BBC1 channel across Ireland from today, with BBC2 joining Sky Digital’s portfolio in April. Until now, BBC1 has been available to 80% of Irish homes via cable and terrestrial signals.

News source: Financial Times