TG4 (Spoken as TG Ceathair or TG a Ceathair; ) is a television channel in Ireland, aimed at Irish-language speakers and established as a wholly owned subsidiary by Radio Telefís Éireann on October 31, 1996. It was formerly known as Teilifís na Gaeilge or TnaG, before a rebranding campaign in 1999. The channel is now headed by an independent public corporation, Teilifís na Gaeilge, since 1 April 2007, following the passage of relevant legislation in 2001. Additional funding is anticipated.
Initially derided as a white elephant by journalist Kevin Myers formerly of the Irish Times (who called it 'Telefís De Lorean', in a reference to the ill-fated De Lorean Motor Company), the station attracts approximately 730,000 viewers every day and the core audience is in the region of 100,000, giving it an audience share of between 2-3%. Ladies gaelic football broadcasts attract up to 180,000 viewers. In July 2007, TG4 was accepted as a new member of the European Broadcasting Union.
The daily Irish-language programme schedule is its central service, broadcasting approximately 2.5 hours a day of 'First Showing' Irish-language programming, together with an estimated 2.5 hours a day of Irish-language programmes repeats. RTÉ supplies TG4 with 1 hour a day of all 'First Showing' Irish- language programming. The remainder of the TG4 schedule is made up of English-language acquired programmes from the USA (such as Nip/Tuck and The O.C.). On 1 April 2007, coinciding with its independence from RTÉ, TG4 changed its overnight sustaining service from Euronews, which it had previously relayed for some years, to France 24. RTÉ channels relay Euronews still.
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.
TG4 also produces a small amount of light entertainment, such as the chat show Ardán and the fashion/dating show Paisean Faisean. Much of TG4's programming is subtitled in English. On October 31 2006 it aired the first episode of a comedy-drama series aimed at an adolescent audience, entitled Aifric after the programme's fourteen-year-old protagonist. On 24 September, 2007, TG4 began broadcasting South Park in Irish. TG4 has also began to broadcast episodes of Sesame Street (Tar ag Spraoi Sesame) that have been dubbed into Irish. A new drama aimed at an older audience than Aifric has also begun and is called Seacht. It follows the lives of seven college students in Belfast.
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.
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. It also has a daily news programme - Nuacht TG4 - as well as Timpeall na Tíre (weekly news roundup) and 7 Lá (current affairs discussion show).
The station has a teletext service called Téacs TG4. Additionally, in June 2006, the station began a trial online simulcast of most of their content, available at tg4.tv Certain content is blacked out for rights reasons.
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. 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.
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