RTÉ is facing a "financial crisis" after a third consortium, Easy TV, pulled out of negotiations to provide commercial digital TV, according to Fine Gael communications spokes-person Simon Coveney.

"Eamon Ryan's plan to provide a commercial digital TV service in Ireland before the analogue system is shut down at the end of 2012 is now in tatters. This is a major financial crisis now for RTÉ which has to provide the finances for a digital TV service network without commercial support," said Coveney.

It also affects the thousands of people who do not have Sky or UPC and who rely on the old analogue system, which will be shut down by the end of 2012, said Coveney.

"Time is running out and Minister Ryan's blasé attitude isn't helping," he said.

An RTÉ spokesman confirmed last week that it has spent €40m installing masts around the country for the new digital system and has plans to spend another €30m.

"A revised overall infrastructure plan will be prepared over the coming months," added the RTÉ spokesman.

The idea is that RTÉ would finance the digital TV network and use one of the four platforms to provide a free-to-air digital service carrying RTÉ, TV3 and TG4. To fund this, licences would be offered to a commercial digital TV provider on the other three platforms to provide TV packages to subscribers,.

Last week, the Broadcasting Authority, which is responsible for the licensing, announced that the withdrawal of Easy TV had brought the current process "to a conclusion".

Ryan said the collapse will not affect the planned analogue switch-off and the 'free to air' digital service of RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 will go ahead.