Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 99 NAI DFA 362/1

Extract from the 'Report on Inter-Departmental Conference Regarding Short Wave Broadcasting'

Dublin, 28 March 1946

The following were present at the conference:- Mr. Ó Broin, Chairman, with Messrs. O'Doherty and Lyons, Department of Posts and Telegraphs; Messrs. Walshe and Boland, Department of External Affairs; Mr. Connolly, Office of Public Works; Mr. Moynihan, Department of Finance; Mr. Gallagher, Department of the Taoiseach, and Messrs. Ó Braonain and Kelly, Broadcasting Station.

The Chairman gave a short outline of developments in connection with the proposal to erect a high power short wave station, mentioning the introduction in 1939 of experimental transmissions with power of 1½ kilowatts, and their discontinuance in 1942. The question was raised again in 1944, and in July 1945 the Government decided that the erection of the station should be proceeded with without delay. The equipment has been ordered; the buildings needed for it are being erected, and transmissions can, it is considered, commence at the end of April, 1947, if no unforeseen hitches occur.

The Conference first considered the audience, i.e., the audience in North America, to which the proposed transmissions will be directed in the first instance. This audience will be predominantly Irish, with, however, different standards from ours. The 'stage Irishman' type of entertainment will not be welcomed, but the standards are nevertheless low in that they lean towards the sentimental and mushy. The view of the Conference was that the aim should be to provide programmes of the highest possible standard, in short, of a type to which a cultured Irishman would invite a cultured American.

Matter to be broadcast
The music to be transmitted should not necessarily be confined to Irish music. The transmission of Irish music alone would soon lose its appeal. Variety should be aimed at, Ceilidhe music being included. The prospective listeners will be pleased with the idea of Ireland taking its place among other modern states in the interpretation of good music generally. Much orchestration of native music will be necessary as will also be the augmentation of the Orchestra.

Apart from music the time available may be distributed between poetry, drama, literary criticism, religious talks, and news. The religious talks should not be of a dogmatic nature, but should be more on the lines of those given by Dr. Arthur Ryan1 from Radio Éireann at present.

Irish Language
There will be scope for only 'a phrase a day' - occupying about half a minute. Salutations would be very suitable and popular and would give national distinctiveness to the programmes. Irish should not be used as propaganda and to transmit it in a manner that would give the impression that it was being taught would be absurd. The announcements should be made in both Irish and English. Musical programmes, including songs in Irish would be helpful.

Sponsored Programmes
No definite opposition need be entertained at this stage towards the transmission of sponsored programmes. Nothing could be advertised however which was illegal in the country of reception (as, for instance, Hospitals' Trust Programmes).

The Conference's view is that propaganda should not be of a direct character, but should be of a type designed to educate outside peoples about Irish institutions and the true Irish way of life. A greater degree of ignorance can be assumed than in the case of home programmes and talks on, e.g. the Constitution, Ireland's educational system, will be suitable. Such talks might be given after the news, the subject of them being announced before the news.

World news must be broadcast, and Irish-Americans will be interested in local news. It would be desirable to have a newsreel covering the country county by county, giving local features, history etc.

Announcers should possess no semblance of affectation. Any impression of affectation would be disastrous, in transmissions to North America particularly. More attention must be paid to the training of announcers.

The tempo in American broadcasting is very fast; the average programme is short, lasting about 15 minutes. These points must be borne in mind in framing the proposed broadcasts. Programmes should be, as far as possible, at fixed times on fixed days of the week, in order to cultivate the habit of listening to the different features.

The Committee consider that transmission should be of one hour's duration to begin with. The aim should be to work up to transmission over a stretch of hours (say 4 hours). Repetition of programmes to different areas will, of course, be possible. The best listening time for a one hour broadcast is thought to be 6.30 p.m. - 7.30 p.m. (American time); for a two hours broadcast 6.15 p.m. - 8.15 p.m. (American time). The Department of External Affairs representatives undertook to obtain an analysis (CBS programme) of the best listening times in America.

A printed sheet giving programmes about four weeks in advance of broadcast should be sent by Air Mail and distributed to the American newspapers. The National Catholic Welfare Service might assist in distribution to local papers. A journal will eventually be necessary - giving past talks and current and future programmes.

[matter omitted]

1 Rev. Dr. Arthur Ryan (1897-1982), scholastic philosopher, lecturer and later reader in Scholastic Philosophy in Queen's University, Belfast.