Getting Free Digital TV in West Cork on Rabbit Ears

Over on my tech blog recently, I mentioned dumping Sky TV and getting an Ariva 120 box. This is a combination satellite and digital terrestrial receiver. It costs an amazing €99 and you never have to pay another thing. You disconnect your Sky box, plug the satellite lead and aerial lead into the Ariva and you’re done.

Until yesterday I had only used the satellite bit which gives you BBC etc. It works very well except for the lack of a programme guide. I recorded Doctor Who onto a portable hard-disk using it yesterday! But I really wanted to try out the terrestrial bit. The other night we watched Masterchef Ireland using the RTE Player on a 37” TV in a browser, full-screen. Not recommended if you value your eyesight or sanity. Sidenote: Dylan surprisingly non-infuriating but I had a big belly laugh when I heard a guy who serves steaks on paving slabs calling someone’s food “contrived”.

Our old roof aerial hasn’t been working right for years and I wasn’t sure where the problem was. So yesterday I cut the cable in the attic near the ingress hole and wired it straight into a old TV I hoisted into the attic. It confirmed that the aerial itself was banjaxed but there was no way I was doing a Rod Hull on it. I grabbed a pair of rabbit ears and then tried them to discover that I could get traditional analogue RTE1 and RTE2 reasonably ok with a bit of noise but not TG4 or TV3.

I wondered if that signal was enough to get the new Saorview Digital Terrestrial working on the Ariva box so I brought the box up into the attic and amazingly it worked instantly! Perfect digital picture on RTE1, RTE2, TV3, TG4 with full on-screen programme guide too. I had some interactions with people on Twitter last night who confirmed that even if your old analogue signal is poor, you may still be able to get Saorview.

Unfortunately the rabbit ears don’t have enough welly to feed a splitter box so today I’m popping into Dwyers Electrical to get this aerial and I’ll fit it in the attic. This type of aerial may be necessary for a lot of people in West Cork due to all the hills. But check using your old aerial first. Hopefully this will work with the splitter so we can have old analogue TV in most rooms and then Saorview in the room with the Ariva box. If they drop in price even more, we may buy another one.

So if you are tired of buzzy noisy old-school analogue TV in West Cork or if you are tired of paying the Rupert tax and can live without Sky Sports, you can save yourself a fortune by going down this route.

I have been very bitchy about Saorview since it was announced. It has taken Ireland 13 years to catch-up with the UK’s OnDigital/Freeview. I worked in a company that talked to RTE about building a Digital TV box in 1998! Celtic Tiger my arse, more like Celtic fat tabby sitting in front of the fire for a decade, scratching its hole. But now that it is here, I have to say it’s very well executed. And €99 for that box is a complete steal.


Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland