RTE is the national broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland and has been involved in broadcasting TV channels since 1961. It was actually an early adopter of radio broadcasting yet Ireland was relatively slow in getting involved in TV broadcasts – the BBC was involved in the 1920s for example. There was some television broadcasting in Ireland through the Northern Ireland services run by the BBC although this was completely unofficial.
The Irish Government until the late 1950s considered TV to be a luxury which wasn’t a priority however it changed it’s opinion as the popularity rose. A committee was formed to investigate how to set up an Irish broadcasting service (for the lowest possible outlay) and it’s initial form was something like the commercial services from the UK.
The first broadcast was on New Years Eve, 1961 at 19:00 hours and included a speech from the President who described what the service would be. Many other messages were then broadcast from religious figures before a live concert was shown live from the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.
The Irish people took to the new medium almost immediately particularly as a way to discuss topics and current affairs. Suddenly topics like abortion, religion and contraception were discussed openly in chat shows and tv studios broadcast across Ireland. The origin of many of these chat shows lies with the first and arguably the most famous one – The Late Late Show which began in July 1962 and which still runs today.
Although RTE was relatively late to the world of TV broadcasting, however it caught up quickly. In 1962, RTE expanded it’s broadcasts to include 625 line transmissions several years ahead of the BBC for instance. In 1969, RTE broadcast the Wimbledon finals in colour over the next few years more and more broadcasts were transmitted in colour.
Rte has expanded it’s channels over the last few years and also branched out into the world of internet broadcasting. RTE Player is the channels broadcasting application and it can be found at the following address – http://www.rte.ie/player/. Unfortunately the channel is not directly available over the internet outside Ireland although they can be accessed in certain areas. In Northern Ireland particularly near the border there is some overspill of the signal. Also the channels were made available over Sky although there has been some disputes over licensing so certain events usually sports shows are not available in Northern Ireland.