TG4 launches archive of its súil eile on news and current affairs
Some 1,500 hours of content have been digitised under a scheme funded by the licence fee
Minister for Communications Denis Naughten (centre) laughs as he is shown an interview given by his younger self, now digitised and preserved by TG4’s news archive. Also pictured are BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe (left) and TG4 director-general Alan Esslemont. Photographer: Bryan Brophy/1IMAGE
It presents what it calls a súil eile on the stories of the day. Now TG4 has digitised an archive of its news and current affairs output from its first eight years on air, preserving its alternative view into the future.
Some 1,500 hours of content produced for the broadcaster by Nuacht RTÉ between 1996 and 2004 has been made available to the public and is expected to be used by students, researchers, historians, linguists and Irish language learners.
The project was financed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) archiving scheme, which is funded by an element of the licence fee and has allocated more than €5 million to some 22 projects since it was established in 2012.
The Minister said the State had been “very proud” to preserve printed manuscripts, but that in the past it had “tended to disregard” the need to archive broadcasted material.
“We need to protect this heritage,” he said, adding that TG4 had been “innovative” throughout its history despite being run on a “shoestring” budget, which he has increased twice since becoming Minister for Communications.
“Somewhere buried in that archive is a clip of me with a full head of hair as well,” Mr Naughten joked, before later being shown such a clip.
TG4 director-general Alan Esslemont said the importance of Irish-language media was “not about translating other people’s ideas”, but about “tapping into the creative genius of the Irish language”.
TG4’s súil eile approach means its archive is “totally distinctive, and not a translation of a view from Dublin”, said Mr Esslemont, who added that TG4 and RTÉ were finding a way “to partner better” for “a new phase” in its relationship.
TG4, which is in discussions with the Minister for additional funding, also made a specific appeal for further support to catalogue and archive more of the “recent history” it has in its possession.
“We have loads of other tapes to digitise,” said TG4 presenter Páidí Ó Lionáird. “The problem is maintaining them. They do disintegrate. And the disintegration of tapes means they are lost and lost forever, unless we get them digitised in time.”
Under this project, the cataloguing work was outsourced by TG4 to Europus, an independent company based in the Gaeltacht. TG4’s in-house staff, with assistance from the RTÉ Archives, then prepared, cleaned and digitised the archive, and designed the website to house it.
BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe said the authority had submitted a review of the archiving scheme to Mr Naughten and was preparing plans for a new version of the scheme.
“We obviously hope we will get approval from the Minister for the new scheme very shortly,” he said.
Projects funded in the past include the Irish Film Institute’s digitisation of vintage advertisements, an archive of some 9,000 hours of RTÉ news coverage and a partnership between RTÉ and the GAA in which recordings of the games from 1961 onwards will be converted from analogue to digital.