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10-01-2006, 23:00   #1
Propellerhead
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The dawn of television in Ireland

Right! To business.

The earliest reference in the Oireactas debates - a fantastic resource - to television being received in the Republic is on 25 May 1950. I don't normally "cut and paste" but will make an exception here.

Deputy Bob Briscoe of Fianna Fail has the honours.

Quote:
There are one or two people in this country, maybe half a dozen, who may be able under certain conditions to receive television given out from Wales and I do not know if the Minister will bring in some measure to make the people who have television sets pay for a different licence whether we are televising or not. It is not a problem at the moment and I personally feel that the Department is to be congratulated for not rushing into this thing without seeing where they are heading.
The question to the learned and erudite folks here is this: What transmitters did the honours? Can we generate maps for Holme Moss, Wenvoe etc and attempt to pinpoint exactly when television was first remotely possible to be received here?

Someone must have been the first to bring a television set here - perhaps our reverse cultural cringe against all things British may have inspired them to keep quiet?

By January 1952 things had moved on to an extent, again apologies for the C&P:

Quote:
Mr. Everett asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs whether he is aware that in districts along the east coast television broadcasts are being received from another country and whether, in view of the cumulative damaging effect which these broadcasts may have on our national culture, he will take the necessary steps to introduce television broadcasting in the Republic of Ireland with a minimum of delay.


Mr. Childers: The Government has so far not given any formal consideration to the question of television, and I cannot say whether the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will have any responsibility for television beyond the control of wave-lengths. The views I express in the reply are, therefore, based only on general information and not on official study.

It is well known that British television transmissions are being received in the east coast localities here. While it would probably be going too far to say that the reception is of a freak nature, general information is that it is indifferent, and I have not heard or read of anybody who claimed to be getting consistent and reliable reception. [218] All parts of this country are certainly outside the normal service area of the nearest British television station.

I should like to make it clear to the public that in my view the establishment of television in this country will not be practicable for a number of years. The cost of providing and maintaining a service for even a relatively small part of the country would be heavy. The erection of modern broadcasting studios is in any event receiving prior consideration.

Mr. Everett: I can assure the Minister that there is a good reception not far away from my own residence and not a freak reception. There are six or seven sets there and they can get a very good reception. In view of the large number of sets now being sold, will the Minister reconsider the matter?

Mr. Childers: The Deputy may not be aware that one of the many cultural projects cancelled by the last Government was the construction of a new broadcasting station. That will have to be considered in relation to any effort undertaken to provide a television service.

Mr. Everett: There were only a few sets in the country then. In the last few months the number has grown to 400 or 500.
James Everett was the National Labour TD for Wicklow and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs under the 1948-1951 Inter Party Government and Erskine Childers, later President of Ireland after Eamon DeValera, was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs between 1951 and 1954.

Last edited by Propellerhead; 10-01-2006 at 23:15.
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10-01-2006, 23:24   #2
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Ball now rolling..

First new subject rolling now folks..
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10-01-2006, 23:35   #3
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Welcome aboard...!

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11-01-2006, 16:34   #4
damienom
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Very good book by Luke Gibbons. Transformations In Irish Culture I think it's called, interesting chapter on television and the development of telly drama in it
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11-01-2006, 20:28   #5
icdg
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If I remember correctly, Robert Savage's Irish Television: The Social and Political Origins is a good reference for the beginnings of Irish television, though it ends before Telefís Éireann ever got to the air - been a while since I read it though.

The 1950s saw committee and commission after each other - Gael-Linn put in a proposal to set up a service (naturally in Irish only), there was talk that an Irish version of the IBA appoint a contractor to operate the TV service (with programming presumably drawn from the UK ITV network), there were even some mad proposals that the TV service could be used to broadcast to Britain. It was only towards the end of the decade that the proposal to let Radio Éireann run the service (and establish it as its own public corporation independent of the P&T) was finalised.
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12-01-2006, 02:39   #6
Telefís
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Yes a fascinating, if somewhat repetitive book.

Leon O'Broin is my hero

And extraordinary man, who worked doggedly in the Dep of P&T for a decade to get a publicly funded national broadcaster up and running.
It's extraordinary how the Irish public were so willing to hand their broadcasting rights away to a foreign commercial company - reflects Ireland a lot I think. Poeple in this country gnerally don't have a sense of civic pride I think - on a community level yes, but otherwise a 'who cares, let the market rule' attitude permeates Irish society to an unfortunate degree, and especially today.

Perhaps it was more a sense of people not realising the importance and the impact of television at the time - but certainly the politicians should have known better.
Commerical television was on the agenda from the very beginning to the very end, in spite of O'Broin's efforts. Were it not for a sudden bizarre change of mind on the part of Seán Lemass and the Dept of Finance we'd have had a commerical televison service set up in Ireland (though things may have changed in the meantime).

Most people don't know this extraordinary story - it's been swept under the carpet.
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12-01-2006, 11:27   #7
Ulsterman 1690
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Didnt PYE petition the Irish Government for a broadcasting licence at one point in the 1950's ?

Quote:
there were even some mad proposals that the TV service could be used to broadcast to Britain
Would have had to overcome a lot of technical difficulties like
1) It would never have been possible to get a signal far beyond the west coast of England/Wales
2) VHF band (particularly Band 1) in most parts of the UK was already heavily overcrowded resulting in lots of co-channel interference
3) Need for a seperate recieving Aerial by those wishing to recieve the service (in addition to the 2-3 aerials already in use for UK channels during the 1950's/60's)
4) Frequency spectrum allocated to Ireland barely sufficent for domestic needs due to Ireland's failure to send delegate to 1956 Stockholm conference*

* =Probably couldnt get the airfare from the Dept of Finance. From any account Ive read of the period nobody -not even a government minister could literally scratch their @r$€ without getting approval from at least three senior civil servents in the Dept of Finance. Granted times were hard but one wonders If a pirate TV station had started in the 1950's would the Post Office had been given the resources to do anything about it (apparently they had a hell of a job onetime getting permission to buy a TV set ) and if such a pirate station were reasonably tax-compliant then anything was possible ????????????

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12-01-2006, 12:07   #8
watty
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Hmm. Has idea. Isn't there a DeLorian left in the Ulster Transport Museaum?

Due to only moving to this part of Ireland in early 1983, I didn't realise the shaky start TV had.
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15-01-2006, 23:48   #9
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Holme Moss opened in 1951, so any reference to BBC television being received in Ireland prior to then has to mean Sutton Coldfield. Impressive!

I read over the weekend that when Holme Moss opened, a radio dealer in Athlone had set up a television in the shop and was receiving Holme Moss. That's a hell of a journey for even a Band I signal to travel.
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15-01-2006, 23:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telefís
Yes a fascinating, if somewhat repetitive book.

Leon O'Broin is my hero

And extraordinary man, who worked doggedly in the Dep of P&T for a decade to get a publicly funded national broadcaster up and running.
It's extraordinary how the Irish public were so willing to hand their broadcasting rights away to a foreign commercial company - reflects Ireland a lot I think. Poeple in this country gnerally don't have a sense of civic pride I think - on a community level yes, but otherwise a 'who cares, let the market rule' attitude permeates Irish society to an unfortunate degree, and especially today.

Perhaps it was more a sense of people not realising the importance and the impact of television at the time - but certainly the politicians should have known better.
Commerical television was on the agenda from the very beginning to the very end, in spite of O'Broin's efforts. Were it not for a sudden bizarre change of mind on the part of Seán Lemass and the Dept of Finance we'd have had a commerical televison service set up in Ireland (though things may have changed in the meantime).

Most people don't know this extraordinary story - it's been swept under the carpet.

I read the book over the weekend in London and was struck that TK Whittaker was even more trenchant as secretary of Finance against the introduction of television than his venerable predecessor McElligott.

One of the arguments canvassed was that if a television service was set up in the Republic valuable savings would be liquidated to buy televisions and the State's finances would be correspondingly in danger.

What a bunch of beggars we must have looked as the fifties wore on.
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16-01-2006, 01:02   #11
Telefís
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Not only that Propellerhead, even as late as the early 70s I've read the painfully slow introduction of colour was in no small part due to Government's reluctance to 'destabilise' the economy with people going out and buying colour sets in large numbers!

You'd wonder, you really would.....
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16-01-2006, 18:58   #12
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In contrast, the population, and the amount of people in the labour force was a fraction of what we have today.

Keeping the missus looked indoors certainly didnt help.

A colour telly was.... 10 times the average industrial wage back then? (pure guess?)
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16-01-2006, 22:58   #13
watty
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Growing up in what was then more Prosperous East Antrim, most TVs were rented.

I remember in 1982 a film released on VHS was about £150 sterling. No wonder they were only rented.

I'd guess Colour TV in early 1970s was comparable to price of a small car today. We were not poor. But it was quite a while after Colour Tv arrived that we rented. It was almost fully transistorised. I've repaired one early all valve colour set.

On the Dual standard sets there was a long switch running the length of the set. My repairs to those (moslty B&W) was by ripping out the switch and soldering all the 625 contacts.

I still have a 1980s B&W 12" set for security camera, I got for nothing but the last B&W I watched as a main TV was till January 1983 when I bought new an 8" portable colour set and a portable full size VHS recorder (with option for a separate camera). It had a matching size non-portable TV tuner that plugged into the camera socket. I never had a camera for it.

I did have an ex-industrial Panasonic 1/2" tape reel to reel B&W portable recorder and B&W vidicon camera from 1979 till 1989 when I gave it away with most of my other electonics "hobby" stuff when we left Limerick to live abroad. I'd say emigrated except we came back to Limerick in 1990 or 1991.
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30-01-2006, 11:48   #14
jaqian
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Our first TV was a rented b&w as they were too expensive to buy. We had it from '73/74 up to '79/80 when we bought our first TV which was colour and I think was made by BUSH. I think we rented it off RTV Rentals or they took over the original shop. Not sure. Earliest program I remember watching as a kid was Playschool, Basil Brush & The Wanderly Wagon. Don't remember any Irish programs.
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30-01-2006, 18:41   #15
Ulsterman 1690
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Ummm Wanderly Wagon WAS an Irish programme was it not ?
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