Tonight’s RTÉ Television and Radio… in 1968 

29 August 2018

The RTE Guide tells us what was on RTE and RTE Radio on Thursday August 29 1968. Things worth noting include:


With radio taking precedence over the visual medium within RTE – a case some critics of Irish broadcasting will argue prevails to this day – transmission begins at 6.00pm with The Angelus; namely the sound of bells marking the third recitation of a daily Catholic prayer. This pillar of national devotion to the church is retained – albeit with a more secular attitude – in today’s broadcast schedules; hence why RTÉ’s early evening news bulletin remains known as the Six-One.

Entertainment for all ages is sourced from other countries, with domestic productions on this day amounting to news, Irish-language programmes, and an outside broadcast of a sporting event from a holiday camp located around 45 kilometres north of Dublin. The venue in question remained under the ownership of Butlin’s until 1982, and in 2000, became accommodation for asylum seekers. As for the four Irish Olympians competing among the 468 swimmers in the 1968 Games in Mexico, none achieved a medal.

Held in the aftermath of the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, there was vested interest in RTE’s coverage of the 1968 convention in Chicago. On the day the Democrats selected Hubert Humphrey and Edmund S. Muskie as their candidates to contest that year’s election, viewers this evening would have likely seen footage, from a day before, of police tackling around 15,000 protestors – including the Chicago Seven – lobbying against federal policy on the ongoing conflict in Vietnam.


Having just one station means RTE had to balance news/speech programmes and music against each other; a situation which would be remedied when their music station RTE Radio 2 – now RTÉ 2FM – was introduced on 31st May 1979.

Borne of necessity to fund programming and the upkeep of the Athlone transmitter in 1927, sponsorship of non-news programmes on Radio Éireann is clearly evident in the morning and afternoon. Even Gay Byrne’s brief stint on-air at 1.15pm falls under this bracket. Sponsorship within this context came to an end in January 1981.

Fictional works are scattered throughout the day’s schedule – ranging from in-house adaptations of existing books, original stories, and the serial The Kennedys of Castleross.



And finally, those Irish-language programme TV and radio programmes titles translated:

  • Amuigh Faoin Speir = Outside Under the Sky
  • An Nuacht = The News (now branded as Nuacht RTÉ)
  • Rogha na mBan = Women’s Choice
  • Ceol Rince = Dance Music (the type you’d hear normally at a ceili)
  • Scéal Nua Ar An Seanscéal = A New Story on the Old Tale

You Say

6 responses to this article

Geoff Nash 29 August 2018 at 4:02 pm

Knowing what I remember of ‘Precious Pup’ and ‘The Hillbilly Bears’ the programme description doesn’t seem to tie in with these two Hannah-Barbera cartoons…..

Mark Jeffries 30 August 2018 at 12:04 am

And they were the two backup features of “Atom Ant.” And outside of their first series, “Ruff and Ready,” H-B did not do serialized shows. Seems like RTE just threw in what the kiddies might like in that 14-minute time slot between the Angelis and the news.

Jaka Bartolj 2 September 2018 at 7:54 pm

What’s truly shocking to me is that RTE Radio did not sign on until just before 8 a.m. Considering that, since the advent of television, morning drivetime has been the time of day with the largest radio audiences (because people listen to the radio on their way to work), this strikes me a bit like a TV station going off the air during primetime. Does anyone know why RTE did this? Was it a union thing? Even in poorer Communist countries, flagship radio services usually signed on between 4 and 5 a.m. by the late ’60s.

Dave Rhodes 12 September 2018 at 12:50 pm

Wonder if the late start for RTE radio was a power-saving measure? Stranger still is the closedown between 3 and 5 on radio.

Tina King 12 September 2018 at 2:24 pm

RTE were always restricted by one thing – money. You have to remember that RTE was and still is funded by both commercials and a licence fee. However due to the small size of the country, the revenue generated from the licence fee and commercials is tiny compared to the UK. This led to a cheese sparing approach to broadcasting hours.

In 1969 the afternoon closedown on RTE Radio was abandoned, and they would start slightly earlier Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30am, Sundays at 7.55am. Their day would conclude at 11.50pm. The lack of money ensured that this did not change until the launch of RTE Radio 2 in 1979, ten years!

Over on television, broadcasting hours were increased ever so slightly for the weekends. In 1975, the hours were extended much more, but compared to BBC and ITV, they were very restricted.

It was not until 1982 that RTE One would start a linked afternoon schedule called “Good Afternoon” from 3.00pm. They only launched a lunchtime news in October 1989, and mid morning television started around 1992, kicking off around 9.30am each day.

By 1997, with the help of the Celtic Tiger, RTE launched 24 hour television at last!

Tina King 17 September 2018 at 2:03 pm

By the 1970s, RTE knew from their ratings that many people could access the UK channels via spill over signal from Wales or Northern Ireland, so they introduced their own cable television company RTE Relays in 1970.

This was the start of a large cable television market in the Irish Republic.

Providing clear BBC1, BBC2, ITV (either UTV from Belfast or HTV from Cardiff) and later Channel 4 along with the Irish channels.

By the mid 1980s a large chunk of the country had cable television. Many cable companies were operating, and so poor RTE were faced with huge competition, but would be able to recoup money from their own cable company.

I remember visiting relatives in Cork City in July 1986. They had RTE1, RTE2, BBC1 Wales, BBC2 Wales, ITV HTV and S4C – all in crystal clear signals. Whereas back home in Berkshire, due to our location outside Windsor with some trees around us, BBC1 was fine, BBC2 okay, Thames/LWT were fine and a poor Channel 4 (watchable but snowy) – so people in Cork had a better UK signal than us in England!

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