TG4 (Irish: TG Ceathair or TG a Ceathair; is a public service broadcaster for Irish-language speakers. The channel has been on-air since October 31, 1996 in the Republic of Ireland and since April 2005 in Northern Ireland.
TG4 was formerly known as Teilifís na Gaeilge or TnaG, before a rebranding campaign in 1999. TG4 was the third national station to be launched in Ireland; after RTÉ One in 1961 (as Teilifís Éireann) and RTÉ Two in 1978, and was followed by TV3 in 1998. The channel has 800,000 viewers who tune into the channel each day to view a broad programming policy. It has a share of 3% of the national television market. The daily Irish language programme schedule is its core service: seven hours of programming in Irish supported by a wide range of material in other languages such as French and English.
In 1969 Lelia Doolan, Jack Dowling and Bob Quinn published Sit down and Be Counted, a book describing their campaign for a separate Irish language television service. Bob Quinn is a maverick film director who produced many documentaries and fiction films through the Irish Language on limited budgets including the first Irish Language film Poitín starring Niall Tóibín, Cyril Cusack and Donal McCann.
The writers of Sit Down and Be Counted proposed small temporary buildings for Gaeltacht regional television services broadcasting a limited number of hours each night with programming coming from each of the Gealtacht regions around the country.
RTÉ and the Irish government had sought to improve the availability of Irish Language programming on RTÉ services. In 1972 RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta (RnaG) was set up to provide Irish Language radio services across the country. All radio and television services provided by RTÉ provided some Irish language programming.
In 1980 a new group called Coiste ar son Teilifis Gaeltachta (The Committee for Irish Language Teleivision) was set up and in 1987 after years of delays (including the sudden death of their technician who was to build the transmitter) they set up the pirate TV station Telefís na Gaeltachta. Eighteen hours of live and pre-recorded programming was broadcast between November 2 and 5, 1987. The transmitter was built at a cost of IR£4,000 through donations from local Gaeltacht communities. In December 1988, further broadcasts were transmitted from three different sites, broadcasting prerecorded programming.
In 1988, as part of RTÉ's branding of RTÉ Two as Network 2 they provided some Irish language children's programming on The Den such as Boilí and Echo Island, with a current affairs programme Cursaí airing each night at 19:00. RTÉ during the 1990s suggested the use of RTÉ TWO's prime time schedule for Irish language programming. The movement for an national Irish Language television service was gaining momentum. However, this amounted to only 5% of the total programming broadcast by RTÉ, and was reduced significantly during the summer months.
In 1989 Ciarán Ó Feinneadha, one of the members of Coiste ar son Teilifís Gealtachta, moved to Dublin and set up a similar organisation in the capital called Feachtas Naisiunta Teilifíse (FTN). FTN outlined their demands:
A television station to be set up in the Gaeltacht regions serving the Gaeltacht and Irish speakers across the country.
It should be linked to RTÉ, but independent from both editorial and organisational points of view.
A special authority set up to run it with representatives from RTÉ, the Department of Communications and Údarás na Gaeltachta.
It was also suggested that the cap on advertising on RTÉ be removed and the additional funds be designated for the new services. Ray Burke had limited the advertising minutes on RTÉ a few years previously. Hence, there would be no cost to the Exchequer, and funding would also come from the National Lottery and the television Licence.
FTN suggested two hours of programming each day with the rest of the broadcast hours to be used for Open University type programming.
On the Air:
The total cost in establishing the transmission and links networks, and the construction of the station's headquarters in the Connemara Gaeltacht, was £16.1 million. Annual running costs increased from £10.2 million in 1996 to £16 million in 2001, and €30 million in 2006.
Within less than six months of the launch of Teilifís na Gaeilge, almost 65% of Ireland's television sets were able to receive the channel and the nightly audience had risen to 250,000 viewers. Three months later, in May 1997, independent research revealed that the station was able to attract audiences of 500,000, or 68% of television sets in Ireland, for at least one hour's viewing per week.
Very significant assistance in non-monetary terms comes from RTÉ which is required to provide over 360 hours of programming annually at no cost to TG4. It was not until 1996 that TnaG would be on air. Their aim, initially, was to show one hour of Irish language programming each night, increasing to two hours by 1999.
Initial criticisms of the planned station came from journalist Kevin Myers who derided TnaG as a white elephant and called it 'Telefís De Lorean', in a reference to the ill-fated DeLorean Motor Company.
An Post celebrated 10 years of the Irish Language station in 2006 with a commemorative stamp. The station launched a book entitled TG4@10: Deich mBliana de TG4 (Ten Years of TG4).
TG4 became an independent statutory entity on 1 April 2007 (Teilifís na Gaeilge). In July 2007, TG4 was accepted as a new member of the European Broadcasting Union. In 2008 TG4 became a founding member of World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network or WITBN; other members include S4C, BBC Alba, M?ori Television, Te Reo (TV), NRK Sámi Radio, SABC, TITV, PTS, APTN and NITV.
On 12 July 2009, the Broadcasting Act 2009 was signed into law. Many of the provisions of the Act relating to RTÉ also apply to TG4, with the station being subject to regulation from the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland once the relevant provisions are commenced. The Act also changes the English language title of the Chief Executive of TG4 to "Director-General" in line with RTÉ and in the Irish language from "Ceannasaí" to "Ardstiúrthóir". There have been two Chief Executives of TG4, Cathal Goan (now Director-General of RTÉ) from 1996 to 2000 and the current Director General Pól Ó Gallchóir.
The daily Irish-language programme schedule is its central service, broadcasting approximately 2.5 hours a day of new Irish-language programming, with an estimated 2.5 hours a day of repeated Irish-language programmes. Currently, RTÉ supplies TG4 with one hour a day of Irish language programming. The remainder of the TG4 schedule is made up of acquisitions from other broadcasters particularly from US broadcasters.
Operating as a publisher and broadcaster, TG4 annually invests up to €20m in original indigenous programming from the independent production sector in Ireland. The Irish language soap opera Ros na Rún is one of its most popular programmes, and it also commissions a number of documentaries.
On 1 April 2007, Teilifís na Gaeilge became an independent statutory corporation, with former Gaelic Athletic Association president Peter Quinn becoming first chairperson of the corporation. The other members appointed to the authority were Joe Connolly, Padraig MacDonnacha, Eilís Ní Chonghaile, Méabh Mhic Ghairbheith, Méadhbh Nic an Airchinnigh, Bríd Ní Neachtáin, Feargal Ó Sé, and Regina Culliton. Coinciding with TG4's independence from RTÉ, TG4 began to broadcast 24 hour news broadcaster France 24 in replacement of Euronews. RTÉ hold a share in Euronews meaning TG4 could no longer broadcast the service.
During the first two years of TnaG the service provide a "blocked" schedule. A distinct language schedule was created in line with their commitment to provide two hours of Irish Language TV each day. Children's TV ran from 17:00 to 18:00, while prime-time Irish Language block began at 20:00 and ended at 22:30 each night. In 1998 the channel began experimenting with their prime time schedule (due to low audience figures and pressure from Independent producers). The prime time block was reduce by 30mins ending at 22:00, while they tested Irish Language programming in late night slots after English Language programming, this schedule increased the audience for Irish Language programmes airing after English Language programmes. A new "hammocking" schedule was introduced. "Hammocking" a term used in public service broadcasting where shows with low audience appeal are placed between programmes with high audience appeal, thus helping to increase audience share for low appeal programming. In 1999 the channel renamed as TG4. The main aim of its new schedules was to provide "national resonance" and to compete with BBC 2 and Channel 4 for Irish audiences.
TG4 lost its language driven style schedule and replaced it with a stronger audience driven schedule, with key audiences delivered at key times. TG4 aims to be a mainstream channel for a niche audience. This new scheduling provided TG4 with strong increase in audience share during the first six months of the newly re-branded channel going from 1% to 2% and by 2005 TG4 had become the 8th most watch TV channel with 2.4% audience share just below both BBC 2 and Channel 4 and well ahead of Sky One.
TG4 has a 2.7-3% share of the Irish television market with an average daily viewership of 730,000.
On Saint Patrick's Day 2009, live coverage of the All-Ireland Finals in the AIB Club Championships on TG4 achieved very high audience ratings for the channel. The viewing figures reveal that 25% of all viewers to television during the afternoon of St Patrick's Day were tuned into TG4. Over 1.1m viewers tuned on TG4 during the day, giving it an overall 8.2% national daily share and placing it in third place in the national daily viewing table for the first time ever. Other major ratings successes for the channel include the All Ireland Ladies Football Final with 21% of all viewers tuned to that broadcast. The series of Westerns have also proven hugely popular with audiences. On the 25 April 2010 TG4's coverage of the Allianz Football League Finals in Croke Park saw them become the most watch channel with 650,000 viewers tuning into the channel to watch some of the games, the Division one final had an average audience of 220,000 viewers.
TG4 provide their viewing figures each week on there website. As they only give the last two weeks of shows it is hard to find a constant reference for their viewing figures. Currently TG4's top 10 programmes range from 40,000 to 100,000 viewers, but their top show can be has high as 250,000, like other television services they reach their highest viewing figures with sporting events.
Some of the most popular programmes included: Glór Tíre (Country and Western reality Competition) - 90-110,000, Rásaí na Gaillimhe (political comedy drama), Ros na Rún (soap), GAA Beo (GAA sport)- 50-100,000, Fíorscéal, Cogar (documentary), Seacht (university drama), Nuacht TG4 (news), 7 Lá (weekly review), Paisean Faisean (dating programme), Feirm Factor (reality tv), An Jig Gig. All of which have had an audience search of between 3% to 12% of the total viewing audience, or 40,000 to 100,000 viewers.
Adult and Prime Time Programming:
TG4 do not dub live action film or television programming into Irish. Some Reality TV programming have the English voice over replaced by Irish language voice over (which is also subtitled in English), however all contestants and presenters are not re-dubbed. In the early years of TnaG the channel broadcast many European programmes with Irish dubbing however this policy has since stopped in favour of US programming in English. Some non-English language films are also subtitled on teletext page 888 in Irish. Most Irish language programmes are subtitled on screen in English, however no live programming (such as news and sport) is subtitled into English. Many Irish language programmes are also subtitled on teletext page 888 in Irish.
Children's and Young People's Programming:
Cula 4, Cula 4 na nÓg and Ponc do not have subtitles during live introductions. Many of the Irish language cartoons are subtitled on page 888 for parents. TG4 broadcast all US teen programming in English, while Irish Language programming is subtitled on screen in English. TG4 have re-dubbed a number of Hollywood children's films into Irish.
TG4 has nurtured a reputation for innovative programming in film, arts, drama, documentaries, and sports. Much of TG4's programming is subtitled in English. The station has a teletext service called Téacs TG4.
TG4 broadcasts many popular US shows ranging from dramas to comedies. TG4 often premiere such shows before other European broadcasters.
News and current affairs:
All of TG4's News and Current Affairs programming is provided by RTÉ free of charge to the channel. In 1996 Nuacht TnaG started broadcasting from the TnaG Newsrooms in Baile na hAbhann. From 13 July 2009 all television broadcasts of Nuacht RTÉ broadcast from the Baile na hAbhann studios. The main news anchor for Nuacht RTÉ is Siun Nic Gearailt who had been the main news anchor for TG4 from 2002 to 2004 before moving to RTÉ.
Nuacht TnaG initially was broadcast at 22:00 each night, later moving to 20:00 and finally to 19:00 where it currently remains. From 1996 to 1998 Gráinne Seoige was the main news anchor for the channel, in 1998 she moved to TV3 to launch their main evening news where she remained until 2004. In 1998 Ailbhe Ó Monachain became TG4's main news anchor. With the rebranding of TnaG as TG4 the news service also renamed as Nuacht TG4. In 2004 Eimear Ní Chonaola became TG4's main news anchor. Since September 2010 Nóiméad Nuachta (News Minute) has broadcast each week day at 13:55.
Each Wednesday Night Páidí Ó Lionáird hosts their Current Affairs flagship show 7 Lá (7 Days), the name derives from RTÉ's original Current Affairs programme 7 Days. Every Sunday night Eimear Ní Chonaola presents Timpeall na Tíre, a round up of all the major stories of the week.
During the summer months they provide Féilte presented by Sinéad Ní Loideáin and Bríd Richardson. It takes a similar format to RTÉ's Nationwide, reporting on Festivals around Ireland during the summer months.
TG4 provides live coverage of Dáil Éireann each Wednesday and Thursday morning; as well as live coverage of the proceedings of key Dáil Committees from time to time.
TG4 has also provided coverage of the 1997, 2002 and 2007 General Elections, coverage of European and Local Elections 2004 and 2009 and coverage of the 2009 Budgets, and coverage of Údarás na Gaeltachta elections.
The channel extensively covers Irish sports, such as the secondary Gaelic football and hurling competitions and club championships, and women's Gaelic football (it also broadcasts Celtic League rugby). These are events which generally do not appeal to a mass audience, but have a reasonably loyal following. Many of the sports that TG4 provide coverage to are sporting events that other Irish Broadcasters would not usually be interested in, they have gained a reputation for providing coverage to minority sporting events and repeat coverage to Rugby and Gaelic games under their programming strand Rugbaí Gold and GAA Gold, showing highlights of classic games from the archives. Seó Spóirt broadcasts a round up of the weeks sporting news with a selected panel, it is hosted by Dara Ó Cinnéide. TG4 provided coverage of Volvo Ocean Race when it arrived in Galway in May 2009.
Since 2000 TG4 have sponsored Ladies' Gaelic Football's All Ireland Competition under the name TG4 Ladies Football All Ireland Championships (Craobhacha TG4 i bPeil Na mBan). They have provide live coverage of the Men's Gealic Football League and round up of the GAA Men's Football/Hurling Championship during the summer months with their GAA round up programme called GAA 2009. They also provide live coverage of the Under 21 All Ireland competitions.
They previously had exclusive rights to show Magner's Rugby League from 2001 to 2004. In 2004 the Irish rights were sold to Setanta Sports, where it was broadcast exclusively from 2004 to 2010. In 2010 TG4 won back the rights for Celtic League rugby with RTÉ, BBC Northern Ireland, S4C and BBC Alba.
TG4 broadcast highlights programme called Olé Olé for Spanish La Liga which it extended to include Scottish Premier League in 1997 the series no longer airs on the channel. TG4 hold rights to League of Ireland with RTÉ and Setanta Sports. They have also broadcast UEFA Cup games in the past.
TG4 broadcast exclusive Irish coverage of the Wimbledon championships tennis tournament. TG4's coverage of the tournament began in 2005, with their coverage being viewed by on average 300,000 viewers each day in 2008. TG4'S coverage of the Roland Garros Tennis begins with Highlights until final week of the tournament when live coverage begins.
TG4 provide live coverage of Tour de France French cycling. TG4's live coverage of the Tour de France began in 2005.
TG4 announced on June 1, 2010 that they will sponsor the Irish International Rules team and will broadcast the 2 games live against Australia in October 2010. TG4 hold the rights TV rights to the International Rules 2010/2011 season. TG4 provide a highlights package of Australian Football League games.
Since its inception TG4 has provided a huge number of light entertainment programming to its Irish speaking audience, such as the chat show Ardán and the fashion/dating show Paisean Faisean.
Cleamhas translated Matchmaker was TG4 first attempt at a blind date type of show. Cleamhas was presented by Seán Bán Breathnach and later by Páidí Ó Lionáird. In Cleamhas the audience would be introduced to the contestant looking for love and then to one of their parents (generally the father of a male contestant and the mother of a female contestant), then the audience are introduced to three suitors. The father or the mother would then ask the suitors various questions about how they would treat their son or daughter, the presenter would then go into the audience to talk to the suitor's friends. It would then be up to the mother or father to choose which suitor would go on a blind date with their son or daughter. This show ran for a number of years and was eventually replaced by Paisean Faisean where three boys/men select clothes for a girl, she would then choose the boy, based on the clothes that they picked for her; this show was presented in the first three series by Aoife Ní Thuairisg, and in the fourth series by Blathnáid Nic Dhonnacha and Máiread Ni Chuaig, Máiread was replaced in 2008 by Síle Seoige. Eochair An Ghrá (Key to the Heart) started airing in 2008 and is similar in format to MTV's Room Raiders. The producers of Paisean Faisean - Magma Films - have since sold the rights to Zoo Productions who will produce the series for MTV under the title Style Date.
In 1996 TG4 aired Hollywood Anocht (Hollywood Tonight) a movie show presented by Síle Seoige. O Bun Go Barr (From Top to Bottom), which is now known as POP 4 and is presented by Eoghan Mac Diarmada, and is Ireland's only Top 40 Countdown Chart show, it also acts as a chart request show and a launch pad for new and up coming Irish bands.
In 2004 TG4 launched a new strand of programming called Síle it is presented by Síle Ní Bhraonáin, it runs from 17:30 to 19:00 each weeknight and is similar in format to RTÉ's Two Tube. On 24 September 2007, TG4 began broadcasting South Park in Irish, on Síle, with the more adult content removed but also made available on Saturday nights. In 2009 Síle was replaced by Ponc.
The also had a number of quiz shows including 90 Seconds.
SÓS (the Irish for break, and the use of a pun SOS) was one of TG4s early attempts at Reality TV. It follow a group of contestants in the blenkness of the Connemara landscape, left with nothing and to fend for themselves. It was a TV version of Gay Byrne's radio experiment from the 1980s.
Ní Gaelgoir Mé was TG4 version of S4C successful show, getting celebs to learn Irish for a week. It was presented by Aoife Ní Thuairisg.
In 2003 TG4 launched their search of Ireland's next top country and western singer. Glór Tíre is now into its 6th successful season on the channel, often landing the top spot on their top ten shows, it has an audience of 100,000 viewers.
In 2008 TG4 launched their search for the best farmer in Ireland. Feirm Factor had 12 farmers competing with each other to see who was the best, the Judging panel consisted of Maura Derrane (Former Ireland AM presenter), Alan Dukes (Former Minister for Agriculture) and Seán O Lionaird (Dairy farmer from Cork). The second series of Feirm Factor was broadcast from January to March 2010. Welsh television station S4C has started broadcasting their own version of the show in 2010, called Fferm Ffactor.
Underdogs search for the best amateur football team from groups of men and women with no previous experience in Minor or Senior GAA football. The judging panel consisted of Geraldine Feerick, Jarlath Burns and Éamon Ó Muircheartaigh.
TG4 commissioned 2 reality talent shows for the channel from Adare Productions. Glas Vegas has a similar format to America's Got Talent and The All Ireland Talent Show, while Nollig No. 1 has a similar format to You're a Star as the judges search for a Christmas number one single. The 2008 winner was Mary Lee, she released the single "You'll Never Walk Alone", with the chorus as Geilge. In September 2009 another series from the same stable began the search for Ireland's best Irish dancing act, entitled An Jig Gig. The winners of this seres were Irish Beats. A fourth season of Glas Vegas will begin in January 2010.
TG4 have broadcast all series of the American version of Survivor with an Irish language voice over.
In the early years TG4 gained critical acclaim for CU Burn a comedy series about a Donegal undertaker and Glenn Ceo a comedy about a small town Garda station in Donegal. Ros na Rún is TG4's long running soap opera, it broadcast for 35 weeks of the year with 2 episodes each week. It is now in its 12th season on the channel. It airs Tuesday and Thursday at 20:30, with an omnibus edition at 22:30 each Sunday night. TG4 have also supported many Irish filmmakers with their Lasair short film programme fund.
In 2006 TG4 commissioned Teenage Cics, their first youth drama. Set during the 1980s in the Donegal gaeltacht, it follows the exploits of young Northern Irish students going to the gaeltacht to learn Irish. This was followed by their successful teen drama Aifric.
In 2007 TG4 won major critical acclaim for their political satirical comedy The Running Mate and Seacht which follows the lives of seven college students in Belfast.
Their new drama series Rásaí na Gaillimhe (part funded by the BAI's Sound and Vision Fund) has been a major hit for the channel, becoming their second most popular show just after Glór Tíre, it is set during the week of the Galway Races, it is a drama-comedy starring, Don Wycherley, Ruth Bradley, Olga Wherly, Hughie McGarvey and Owen Roe.
TG4 begin their first supernatural thriller on 13 January 2010. Na Cloigne (heads) is set in contemporary Ireland and revolves around a young couple (Nuala and Séan). Nuala is an artist with supernatural powers connecting her to the Otherworld and is faced with an adulterous boyfriend. Soon two young women Séan brings home for a nightcap are found dead.
TG4 continue with successful drama output with their Comedy An Crisis (The Crisis) which pokes fun at the Irish economic downturn and what effects that has on the promotion of the Irish Language. The comedy centers around the office of the Acting-Chairman of ACT (An Chomhairle Teanga/The Language Commissioner) played by Risteárd Cooper as he fight to save the organisations from "An Bord Snip Nua". Corp & Anam is a new 4 part series from TG4 starring Diarmuid de Faoite and Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors). It is set to broadcast in early 2011
Praise for TG4 Drama:
"The reality is that Irish language TV dramas, no matter how acclaimed or however many awards they might win, are unlikely to show up in box set form in any DVD mega-store. TG4's viewership ranges from between 2 and 4 per cent of the population, enough to cost a politician an election but far too few viewers to send a show into the top 10 in the TV ratings. A shame, because there are great things happening in the area. TG4's recent batch of mini-series Rasaí na Gaillimhe, Paddywhackery and Na Cloigne (not to mention Aifric, Seacht and long-running soap Ros na Rún) have featured outrageous plots and wacky characters, and dare to be politically incorrect: they get away with it because they are in Irish."
"the first episode of An Crisis, a new six-parter from TG4, was laugh out loud funny - interspersed with a couple of knowing sniggers."
In 1996, TnaG started its children's programming under the strand Cullabulla (taken from Hiberno-English). Since then they have renamed and extended the strand as Cula4.
It also actively commissions documentaries such as the acclaimed and popular Amú series of travel programmes which launched the career of Hector Ó hEochagáin, one of a number of TG4 presenters who have gone on to success at other channels. Others include newsreader Gráinne Seoige. As many of these programs are subtitled in English, they are often popular with recent immigrant populations, who find spoken English very fast on Irish produced television, as well as native Irish speakers.
They dub the a French-Canadian documentary series under the name Fior Scéal. Nello was another well received travel show looking at live in middle America.
They have a documentary strand called Cogar. Ealú (Escape) which looked at prison escapes around Ireland. They repeat the RTÉ shows Leargas (a new magazine show) and Scannal (reports on scandals that hit Ireland).
In the early years of TG4 the service repeated the Welsh teenage drama series Jabas which was re-dubbed into Irish from Welsh. They also aired the French cartoon Bouli as part of their children's schedule. Jabas and Bouli had previously aired on RTÉ Television. Again the Welsh series Pris y Farchnad was translated into Irish under the title An Craiceann is a Luach. In general however TG4 perceived that Live action series aimed at adults re-dubbed into Irish was not an attractive proposition even for fluent Irish speakers, as is the cases for many bilingual northern European viewers.
Since its launch TG4 has significantly increased the number of re-dubbed children's programmes from 70 hours in its first year to 200 hours. TG4 only re-dub cartoons while live action series remain in English, such as the Australian drama H2O and the American sitcom Lizzie McGuire. TG4 have re-dubbed Harry Potter into Irish as Harry Potter agus an Seomra Diamhair. Some other live action children's movies such as Scooby-Doo have been re-dubbed into Irish.
TG4 has a broad film policy which features a strong range of independent and mainstream cinema. The channel places a strong emphasis on Irish films both in the Irish and English languages and European cinema which features films in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Danish and Swedish among other languages. These films air under the strand Le Film. TG4 regularly broadcast Westerns under the strand An Western.
Mainstream Hollywood cinema is represented by films from 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. among others. TG4 regularly broadcast such films on Tuesday Nights as part of their Scannán na Seachtaine (Movie of the Week) strand. They sometimes re-dub children's films into Irish with English subtitles, the most notable being the Harry Potter films.
TG4 became the first channel to broadcast in full Stanley Kubrick's classic A Clockwork Orange, a season of Kubrick's films followed including the European TV Premiere of Eyes Wide Shut.
TG4 On Demand:
TG4 launched its on demand service TG4 Beo in 2003 at tg4.tv ahead of most other European broadcasters. The online service provided viewers in Ireland and around the world with a live feed of TG4 and a catch-up service. The on demand service was relaunched in March 2010 which continues to provide a live stream of the channel along with a catch-up service that allows viewers to watch programming up to a month after its original air date. The new service is designed and managed by Nordic telecommunications company TeliaSonera.
The relaunched on-demand service will eventually carry interactive subtitling and social interaction platform. According to TG4 the catch-up service has had 2 million downloads over the last 12 months.
On-air identity / Marketing:
TG4's on screen identity is very different from its counterparts drawing upon the stations original slogan Súil Eile (meaning another view).
Its first idents were under their former name of TnaG. The music on TnaG's early ident sequences was produced by Irish composer Oisin Lunny. The opening sequence featured a number of Irish scenes from across the Island of Ireland including Belfast and Dublin, it finished with a light house, the light of which beamed the logo on to the screen. While the longer seqence went out at the beginning of each day and the end of the night, a shorter version went out before each programme. TnaG ran numerous marketing campaigns with this logo, their main features were the difference of the Irish, one ad featured Red Lemonade, the slogan used in English was "Because we're Different" followed by the well known Irish slogan "Súil Eile". Another marketing campaign featured the stars of the channel asking the question "What more do you look for from a station?", they would be based a various stations such as Train stations and Space stations.
In 1999 with the onset of Digital TV, TnaG was rebranded as TG4 to strengthen the perception of the brand, from being niche Irish only language channel to mainstream channel with Irish language programmes. The TG4 ident continued with the difference aspect of the channel, that provides an alternative view, the slogan 'Suil Eile' translates literally as 'other eyes' but is also a pun in Irish meaning 'a different view'. The logo takes the G from the orgninal logo, separtates it from the T and the T lost its celtic script look. The promotion of the channel from TnaG to TG4 was done with the use of a caterpillar growing into a butterfly.
During its 1999 rebrand TG4 would now feature a DOG in the top right hand corner on all of TG4's programming, previously a TnaG DOG featured only on Oireachtas and QVC broadcasts.
The idents from 1999 to 2004 featured various people playing or messing in the background of the screen before the logo appear with the words Súil Eile below the logo.
In 2004, numerous new Idents were developed for the station: Fairies, Bridge, Launderette, Cars, Wrestlers etc. all feature on the new idents. TG4 promotions now feature the seasons Geimhreadh (Winter), Earrach (Spring), Samhair (Summer) and Fómhar (Autumn). The opening ad break ident states "Fan Linn" (wait with us) and the ad break ends with "Seo Linn" (here we are).
TG4 was originally only available in Northern Ireland via 'overspill' of the terrestrial signal from the Republic of Ireland. In the 1998 Belfast Agreement there was provision for TG4 (then TnaG) to be made available in Northern Ireland, along with increased recognition of the Irish language. Similarly, while TG4, along with the Republic of Ireland's other terrestrial channels, are carried on Sky Ireland there, it was not available to Sky subscribers in Northern Ireland until 18 April 2005 and on Virgin Media NI until February 2007.
In March 2005, TG4 began broadcasting from the Divis transmitter near Belfast, as a result of agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Northern Ireland Office (N.I.O.). However, because of overcrowding on the frequency bands, only a low power signal can be transmitted and reception is still unavailable in many areas, even in parts of Belfast. The channel is, however, available on cable and on to Sky satellite subscribers. It is hoped that the channel can eventually be made available on digital terrestrial services (Freeview) and free-to-air on satellite.
A report from UK media regulator Ofcom, released in November 2007, suggests that TG4 will be carried on Freeview in the future..
On 1 February 2010, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan signed an agreement with the UK's Ben Bradshaw. This agreement will enable viewers within Northern Ireland to watch RTE One, RTE Two and TG4 on a free-to-air basis as of 2012. The agreement between both jurisdictions will also guarantee that viewers within the Republic will be able to view BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Two Northern Ireland on the Republic's free-to-air service which is to debut in late 2010. A cross-border initiative has always been on the agenda for the Green Party in Ireland. However, it was later confirmed that BBC Northern Ireland services are now to be offered in the Republic on a 'paid for' basis and not the original free-to-air basis.