Early in-vision teletext in Ireland

Until the late-1980s, the test card filled most of the daytime hours on RTÉ One and RTÉ Two. And actually, even by the 1980s, the RTÉ One analogue transmitter network only came back online at 10am (weekdays) after the overnight shutdown. RTÉ Two was later again – 11.45am (weekdays).

On RTÉ Two, viewers were treated to the Philips PM5544 test card and tone, until the first programme of the day – usually around 6pm. Although RTÉ One would start off with test card and tone, later in the day a couple of music tapes were unleashed. Unlike their UK counterparts at the BBC, very little effort went in to trade test tapes at RTÉ. The same limited selection of music would run for years.

In early 1986, teletext finally came to RTÉ. An experimental version of Aertel launched. A selection of pages was shown “in-vision” on RTÉ Two each afternoon during the trial, replacing a portion of the daily trade test transmission. Initially, the teletext pages were accompanied by tone. Eventually someone decided that it would be better to bring the music tapes across from RTÉ One. And so it was: music now on RTÉ Two to accompany Aertel, tone with the test card on RTÉ One.

In its early days, Aertel editorial staff updated the service between 2.30pm and 10pm. Later in 1987, this was extended to 10am – 10pm (a staffing arrangement that remained for many years). At this point, Aertel In-Vision moved to an earlier start time of 12pm on RTÉ Two.

By the time of its formal launch in summer 1987, Aertel was using Level 2 teletext features on the in-vision service. And although it was possible to have Level 2 pages display perfectly fine on Level 1 receivers, some of the tweaks they made for the Level 2 display adversely impacted the Level 1 equivalent (in a minority of cases).

Here’s a recording of an in-vision teletext transmission from May 1989, featuring the long-standing Level 2 graphics. Apologies for the poor picture and sound quality – the material was recovered from a creaking Betamax tape.

An adjustment was made early on, to ensure the clarity of the data in the header row – Level 2 background colouring was excluded from this area.

VIDEO: Aertel In-Vision pages. TX DATE/TIME: 25th May 1989, 1.13pm. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: RTÉ.

Unlike the music that accompanied BBC, ITV and Channel 4 trade test transmissions, there’s little in the way of documentation – in the public domain at any rate – for the RTÉ broadcasts.

The above recording probably accounts for at least 40% of the trade test music that was in use from c. 1984 – 1991. In fact, as far as we know, the same set of tapes ran for this seven-year period.

Can you help identify the tracks from the above recording? Here’s what we have so far:

  • 00:00:00: Japanese Boy. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:00:43: Agadou. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:02:14: Chequered Love. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:03:47: I’ve Done Everything for You. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:05:24: La, La, La, La. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:07:02: I’ve Seen That Face Before. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:08:45: Super Freak. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:10:09: In For a Penny, In For a Pound. James Last Non-Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around the World. James Last and his orchestra.
  • 00:12:00: Infernal Dance of All Kashchei’s Subjects. London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink.
  • 00:16:15: Unknown.
  • 00:21:35: Unknown.
  • 00:26:55: Also Sprach Zarathustra. Richard Strauss. Orchestra unknown.
  • 00:28:55: Odd sound, like a needle running off the turntable. This was on the tape.
  • 00:29:00 – 00:54:22: Unknown.
  • 00:54:22: Czech Dances – Furiant. Bedrich Smetana.
  • 01:04:01: Silence.
  • 01:04:50: Charmaine. Mantovani and his Orchestra.
  • 01:07:58 – 01:11:13: Unknown.

C. 1992, the decision was taken to have the test card and teletext in-vision accompanied by radio sound: RTÉ Radio 1 went out on RTÉ One, and 2FM on RTÉ Network 2.

Aertel In-Vision finally came to RTÉ One by the mid-1990s, using a new Level 1 generator. By c. 1996, the Philips PM5544 test card had disappeared completely from RTÉ TV, when Aertel In-Vision was also shown overnight on both channels (in spite of the fact that Aertel was unstaffed between 11pm and 8am).

REQUEST: if you have any information about RTÉ trade test transmissions and teletext in-vision broadcasts between 1961 and the late-1990s, we’d like to hear from you. Whether it’s about the music that accompanied these transmissions, or the technical side of things, it’d be great to provide a more detailed account of this obscure piece of Irish TV ephemera.

Acknowledgements

RESEARCH:

Thanks to Colm O'Rourke for help identifying the tracks.

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: Aertel In-Vision. SUPPLIED BY: The tV Room. COPYRIGHT: RTÉ.

Posted by The Clean Feed Team

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