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RTE urged to avoid NI

State papers

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 30/12/2015

RTE was discouraged from broadcasting in Northern Ireland in the 1980s in case it antagonised unionists.

Officials warned of a "strong political reaction" against the Irish state broadcaster.

An RTE transmitter sited in Northern Ireland would "outrage" unionists and become a target for terrorists.

The concerns emerged in documents reporting on discussions about transmitting RTE in Northern Ireland.

A note reporting on a discussion at an Anglo-Irish intergovernmental conference set out the problems.

"There is no doubt that there will be a strong political reaction from unionists if RTE programmes were to become available throughout Northern Ireland," it stated.

Today, digital technology means RTE is available all over Northern Ireland. But in the 1980s it could only be viewed in border areas.

A separate memo reported it was against British broadcasting policy to allow non-UK broadcasting stations to erect transmitters on UK soil.

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