RTÉ television launched its autumn schedule this lunchtime. The programmes range from home-made drama to documentaries and the return of some old faces in new slots. The station has also given details of its special programmes to mark the millennium.

The launch of this schedule is vitally important to RTÉ in the face of commercial competition. The station is planning one of its biggest ever broadcasts to celebrate New Years Eve and the turn of the millennium. There will be live coverage of events all over Ireland as well as around the world. A number of special programmes will lead up to the 31 December. The Irish Empire will tell the story of how Irish emigrants established themselves in far-flung places. And a ten-part series will look back at Ireland in the 1980s. "Reeling in the Years" features the likes of Bob Geldof, Sally O'Brien, GUBU and Shergar.

In drama, "Glenroe" is back and "Fair City" will have three episodes a week. A new detective drama "the DDU" is a spin-off from last year's "Making the Cut". Pat Kenny steps into Gay Byrne's Friday night shoes and a new chat show on Saturday nights will have different presenters each week. News and current affairs coverage will continue to play a major role in the station's output. Network 2 will continue to have the first screenings in these islands of shows like Ally McBeal, Friends and Dawson's Creek. At the programme launch the Managing Director of TV, Joe Mulholland, said that the schedule was evidence that RTÉ is approaching the millennium in a confident and combative mood.