Friday, February 18, 2011

The Boob Tube in Ireland...uh, quite literally

For this week's feature on the differences between Ireland and the US, I thought we would focus on the television. The physical television really isn't that different than what you would see in the US, minus the plug. But the programming, and the channels, oh dear friends are quite different indeed! It's hard to know where to start. We'll start with the National Television station: RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann), The radio bit has been around since 1926 and the TV station began in 1961 - its a ststuatory body run by a board appointed by the Irish government. RTE has RTE 1 and RTE 2. A lot of the programming comes from America, anywhere from one week to several months later than it would have been run in the states. They obviously cover a load of Irish sports, politics, etc. We also get the BBC stations here and then a wide range of cable stations.

Some of the biggest differences include:

If you have a TV in Ireland, you are required by law to pay a yearly TV license. This license is €160 a year and is supposed to mean that we can view programs without loads of commercials. This works for the BBC stations, but sadly not for the RTE ones. If you don’t pay the fees you can wind up being hugely fined or in some cases even going to prison!

Nudity. As alluded to in the title of this blog – nudity and cursing are allowed on normal, not cable television. The first time I saw full frontal nudity and heard the f word, I nearly fell off my couch! There is no need to pay for Skinemax here, just wait until 9pm and you never know what you’ll get!

Program schedules. It is very normal for a weekly program to not actually come on at the same time every week. One week it could start at 9:00, the next week at 8:55, the following week at 9:15. If there is a program you really want to see, you must be vigilant in seeking it out!

Everyone watches the same thing. It could be because Ireland is a smaller country, that there are less offerings or that people are following the habits of their parents, but I find that almost everyone watches the RTE programming, RTE news, and RTE movie of the week (every Wednesday at 9:30 or 9:35). Until I lived with Carl, I didn’t participate in the watching of these programs, but they do a thorough job of keeping the public informed of what’s happening in the country. Right now RTE is working overtime with all of the depressing news about the Irish economy they are reporting!

News. The news in Ireland is presented in very calm and nearly monotone voice. Sometimes I really have to focus to hear it - it's very different than the reporter voices you would hear in America. Some how the news seems slightly more serious and less subjective when you listen to it, which is completely ironic considering it is a government run station!

As we are getting closer to knowing our leaving date I have slowly realised the things that were so different to me in the beginning are so normal to me now, and when I go home I have a feeling there are more than a few things I am going to miss.

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