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Abstract

At the time of writing, buenas vistas of the digital landscape are far fewer than when this publication was first conceived. The last year (2002) has witnessed high profile European digital failures, a fraught domestic franchising process and a serious financial crisis at RTE. These factors, combined with the as yet ambiguous direction of postelection policy, conspire to make the future of digital terrestrial television very uncertain. More broadly, reports from Ireland1 and abroad suggest that there is still a significant battle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of potential digital converts. At least partially this involves convincing people that proposed analogue switch-offs are somehow in their best interests, and not heavy-handed (and failing) attempts at technological determinism. Nevertheless, the uncertain appeal and future of a service that may not be able to offer anything more than a diet of re-runs and interactive shopping for abcrunchers creates at least a usable vacuum. It provides a space to focus and regroup energies around the key values and debates on the philosophy and practice of public service, at a time when the concept of public in Ireland contains recurrent and emergent complexities.

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