On New Year's Eve 1961, the first broadcast of the Irish television service was made. The initial broadcast featured addresses by the President of the Republic, Eamon de Valera, and the Primate of all Ireland, Cardinal D'Alton. Both expressed concern over the effect television might have on Irish society. The dire warnings issued by both men illustrated the high level of apprehension held by many. This anxiety had been articulated by numerous organizations and interest groups since the debate over television began to take shape in the 1950s.
A number of corporations and organizations had expressed a keen interest in building and operating television stations in Ireland. Other groups stepped forward to make the case that their particular interests should be addressed in any service that might be established. From the onset, a coherent policy eluded successive governments, with the fiscally conservative Department of Finance insisting that public television was beyond the means of an under-developed economy, while the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, already responsible for the national radio service, championed a state-run system. The arguments of these and other organizations, including the Catholic Church, Irish language groups, and professional organizations, culminated in the establishment of a Television Commission to recommend public policy. After deliberating for more than a year, the Commission issued a confused and contradictory final report. As Professor Savage shows, the television service that emerged was a synthesis of these opposing positions; an Irish solution to an Irish problem. This volume will be of considerable interest to students and scholars of Ireland as well as public policy and communications.