The Irish Film Board (IFB) has announced a proposal for a new Irish TV channel, using new digital infrastructure, which will be dedicated to broadcasting the best of Irish, European and world cinema.

The proposal has been made to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for inclusion in Ireland's new Broadcasting Bill which will be launched by Minister Eammon Ryan next month.

The new channel will be a non-commercial, free to air service, available to all Irish households and to be included as part of the new multi-channel digital transmission system that will eventually replace the existing four-channel analogue system.

According to the statement from the IFB the new channel would provide Irish audiences with access to 'award-winning independent Irish, European and world cinema in prime time TV slots.'

'The channel will fill a gap by providing a platform for Irish films and for award-winning European and world cinema that Irish audiences rarely have the opportunity to see or know about. Irish films screening on the channel are likely to have completed their own commercial cycle through theatrical, DVD and mainstream TV outlets before appearing on the film channel.'

The proposal envisages that the channel will build key strategic relationships with Irish film festivals, film societies, and the education sector.

James Morris, IFB chairman and founder of Ireland's commercial terrestrial broadcaster TV3, said, 'With the switch to digital transmission and consequent increase in the number of terrestrial channels the Film Board saw an opportunity to put forward a proposal for a new channel dedicated to the best of Irish, European and world cinema.

'While the opportunity for an Irish film channel came at relatively short notice it was very encouraging that Minister Eammon Ryan saw the proposal as a genuine addition to the proposed new transmission platform, a position enthusiastically endorsed by our own minister for arts, sports and tourism, Seamus Brennan.'

Further details of the proposed new channel will be announced later next month.