THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Eire television viewers should not be allowed to ‘poach’ Ulster signal

From the News Letter, July 21, 1956

By Darryl Armitagge
Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:21 pm

“Today a permanent television transmitter on Divis Mountain will come into service and it should ensure good reception in virtually every part of Northern Ireland ” read an editorial article which was published by the News Letter on this day in 1956.

The editorial continued: “The effective range is supposed to be bounded by Coleraine in the north, Dungiven and Aughnacloy in the west and Newry in the south, but the tests carried out during recent weeks prove that it is much wider.

“Viewers in counties Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Cavan, Monaghan and Longford have reported flawless reception, not once, but every time there has been test.

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“It may be, of course, that the fine weather has had something to do with it and that when anticyclones cease to favour us reception will not be so good.”

The editorial added: “Meanwhile, however, there is an insistent demand by people in Eire that steps should be taken to enable everybody in the republic to share in this form of entertainment without being liable to a charge of ‘poaching’.

“It has been suggested that it would not be difficult to arrange to have BBC programmes relayed by Radio Eireann.

“This might be true so far as legal and technical problems are concerned, but the financial question would remain.

“Artists would demand higher fees if they knew that there was to be a relay service to the 26 counties.

“Finally, the political aspect must be considered. Is it likely that the Eire Government would enter into arrangements that would place a service of great potential propaganda outside their control?”

The News Letter’s editorial concluded: “The answer must be ‘No’. Until the Eire Government is prepared to pay for a service of its own - and a Minister has stated that at present the cost is prohibitive - Eire viewers must be content with what they can pick up when conditions are favourable. This is a small part of the price they must pay for independence.”