Newspapers have been published in Ireland for over three centuries. The very first periodical news-sheet, entitled An Account of the Chief Occurrences of Ireland, was published in February 1659. Later, in the closing years of the 17th and the early part of the 18th centuries, there was a flood of more solidly established newspapers, such as Faulkner's Dublin Journal, which was founded in 1725 and lasted for a century, and Saunders's News-Letter (1755-1879). Of the newspapers founded in this period only the Belfast News Letter has survived. First published in 1734, the News Letter is the country’s oldest newspaper.
The 19th century produced many successful newspapers, among them the Dublin Evening Mail (1821-1962) and the Freeman's Journal (founded in 1763) which in 1924 was absorbed into the Irish Independent, one of the present national daily newspapers. Many daily and weekly newspapers were published in the main towns and cities. Among the titles published in Cork which had a population of 85,745 in 1851, were the Free Press, the Herald and the Constitution. In the same year Galway, with a population of 23,695, had six newspapers; Tralee, County Kerry, with a population of 15,156 had eight (five weekly and three evening papers) and Waterford, with a population of 11,257, published two evening papers.
The country's first penny newspaper was The Irish Times which was launched by Major Lawrence Knox in 1859. The Irish Independent was founded in January 1905. Éamon de Valera, then leader of the Fianna Fáil party and later Taoiseach and President, founded The Irish Press in 1931 and its success led to the launching of The Sunday Press (1949) and the Evening Press (1954). Six morning daily newspapers are published. Three are based in Dublin: the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and The Star; two are published in Belfast: the News Letter and The Irish News and one, The Cork Examiner, is published in Cork. Three evening newspapers are published: the Evening Herald (Dublin), the Belfast Telegraph, and the Evening Echo (Cork). Four Sunday newspapers are produced in Dublin: the Sunday Independent, The Sunday World, The Sunday Tribune and The Sunday Business Post; The Sunday Life is published in Belfast.There are over 90 provincial newspapers, usually published weekly. The largest-selling provincial newspaper is the Kerryman. Many of the provincial newspapers are family-owned enterprises, independent of the larger publishing groups.A wide variety of magazines and periodicals is also published.
Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ) is the national broadcasting service. Radio broadcasting commenced on 1 January, 1926 and the television service was inaugurated on 31 December, 1961. RTÉ is a statutory corporation. The RTÉ Authority consists of nine members, appointed by the Government. Under the Authority, the chief executive is the Director-General. There are separate programme divisions for Radio, Television and News, with management, technical and support systems in engineering, television production facilities and information technology.
As the principal broadcaster in the country, RTÉ fulfils a public service remit by providing a comprehensive range of programming. The service has a nationwide communications network with an increasing emphasis on regional input and news gathering.
Radio services are broadcast nationwide on VHF in stereo on three networks. Radio 1 (over 9,500 hours broadcast each year), 2FM and Raidió na Gaeltachta in both Irish and English, provide news, current affairs, music, drama and variety, features, and programmes on agriculture, education, religion and sport. Radio 2FM is a 24-hour music and chat channel with a high proportion of popular current affairs. Raidió na Gaeltachta is the dedicated Irish language radio medium. In addition, FM3 offers classical music and Cork Local Radio reflects regional activity in Munster. RTÉ Radio services can be received via the Astra satellite system throughout Europe and, in part, on the Galaxy 5 satellite to North America.
RTÉ Television broadcasts nationwide on RTÉ 1 and Network 2. These operate as complementary channels, with an aggregate output of approximately 10,000 hours each year. Over half of output is home-produced with an increasing proportion being commissioned from independent producers. A further one hour per day is to be supplied to the projected Irish language television channel, Teilifís na Gaeilge, which is expected to commence broadcasting in 1996. Informational programming on television is especially popular with viewers, and there is an increasing commitment to using television drama to promote the best new and established talent in writing, acting and directing.
Atlantic 252 is a commercial long wave radio station which can be received throughout the country and Britain, and in parts of Europe. RTÉ, jointly with Telecom Éireann, owns and operates Cablelink Ltd., one of Europe's largest cable television companies. In addition to RTÉ services, Cablelink provides four British television channels, and twelve satellite channels, and is currently poised to provide MMDS (Microwave Multipoint Distribution System) services to smaller towns and rural areas. Aertel, a teletext information service, is currently received free of charge by 40% of homes.
RTÉ's staff of approximately 1,900 includes writers, journalists, musicians, actors, singers, producers, artists, and designers. The service is the largest provider of music of all kinds in the country, employing over 150 full-time musicians, and engaging many more on a freelance basis.
The service's finances are derived from licence fees (40% of income in 1993), advertising sales revenue (55% of income in 1993), and ancillary income. In 1993 total income was almost IR£131.6m with expenditure of almost IR£124m. RTÉ Commercial Enterprises incorporates the RTÉ Guide, the country's largest selling weekly magazine, with a circulation of 180,000.
Independent local and national radio services are arranged through The Independent Radio and Television Commission. The Commission, a Government appointed body, is also to arrange for the provision of an independent television service. The local independent commercial radio sector now consists of twenty-one franchise stations around the country, including two stations in the Dublin area. Two non-profit making stations - one community station and one special interest (Irish language) station - have been licensed in the Dublin area, and there are plans to introduce further community stations in selected areas throughout the country.
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