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TV3 switches on, and the forecast is looking sunny; Tuned-in Taoiseach launches first-ever independent channel.

BERTIE Ahern last night launched a new era in Irish television broadcasting.

The Taoiseach threw the switch that officially launched Ireland's first- ever independent channel.

Seconds after Ahern hit the power lever, TV3 burst onto the television screens of thousands of curious Irish viewers.

A glitzy half hour introductory package gave viewers a taste of what to expect from the country's opposition to RTE.

And then the fledgling station faced its first real test - a live news broadcast.

The one hour bulletin passed by with only the slightest of technical hitches.

Sexy news anchors Alan Cantwell, 30, and Grainne Seoige, 24, introduced Ireland to its first alternative television news service.

Sultry Seoige was the station's first live voice as she introduced the bulletin's Bill Clinton lead story.

And station bosses breathed a sigh of relief as all the news packages rolled out over the airwaves smoothly.

But the station's first hitch of the night came when madcap weatherman Martin King attempted to give viewers a sneak preview of his forecast.

Unfortunately the satellite sequence failed to fire.

However, the former 98FM DJ turned out to be the star of the night for the new independent station.

His quick-moving and humourous end-of-news weather report had station insiders predicting that he will be a cult hit on TV3.

Former AA roadwatch star Lorraine Keane scored a coup for her entertainment slot when she crammed interviews with Boyzone's Ronan Keating and U2's Bono into her package.

And rising star Grainne Seoige conducted a live interview with the Taoiseach as he expressed fears that Bill Clinton may be impeached.

New anchor Alan Cantwell revealed the jitters that had plagued him in the run-up to the first broadcast.

"I was very nervous. We were all getting a bit jittery coming up onto air time," he said.

"But everybody is quite happy with how it went out," he told the Irish Mirror.

"It was a great night. An historic night and I am just privileged to have been part of a great team," he said.

Following the successful news bulletin anchor Grainne Seoige explained the decision to allow her to speak first on the historic bulletin.

"I don't know why they came to that decision. I think it was a case of ladies first," she said.

"It was a very nervous day for us, it was almost surreal. I woke up this morning and I couldn't get over what we were going to do.

"But when we got into studio all the nerves went."

l TV 3 will suspend normal programming today to broadcast the Clinton tapes live at 2pm.

The news special is to be hosted by Alan Cantwell.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Brophy, Karl
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 1998
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