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Picture of confusion for Setanta viewers

By Emily Moulton

Confusion still remains over what Setanta Sports customers in Northern Ireland will be able to view after its UK company went off air earlier this week.

Setanta Sport Holdings Limited which operated the sports channel in England, Scotland and Wales went into administration on Tuesday after it failed to secure additional financing.

The Irish pay-tv company has been plagued with money problems after missing subscriber targets. The broadcaster has 1.2 million customers, 700,000 short of the 1.9 million that industry experts believed they needed to break even.

The massive shortfall led to the company being unable to pay the £30m it owed to the English Premier League and around £3m to the Scottish Premier League for rights to broadcast its matches.

As a result Setanta was forced to pull the plug on its UK operations.

However, the Irish-based business – Setanta Sports Ireland – and Setanta International have not gone into administration.

Yesterday, on its Irish website Setanta said it was still broadcasting in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. But it did not go into any detail over what was still available for its northern customers.

It says customers in the south will be able to watch most of the big matches such as the Barclays Premier League, Formula 1 and Magners League Rugby, but “there are different levels of coverage available in Northern Ireland”. A full programme content will be advised in due course, it adds.

As for the price, Setanta says it will be advising customers either by letter or email to “outline new pricing and new content that will be available” and that it is working with other channel providers to restore other channels. Setanta had a total of 420 employees in the UK and Ireland.

Of those about 200, who were employed in the UK, will be made redundant.

A spokesman from Ofcom in Northern Ireland Ofcom said: “Ofcom is providing advice for Setanta customers. We also expect to publish the next stage of our investigation into the UK’s Pay TV market before the end of the month.”

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