It was the year of Jimmy Savile, whose television persona had always been creepy and about whom distressing stories had been circulating for decades. So why did this autumn's revelations come as such a shock to the BBC?
But the corporation's shame didn't end with disclosures that a Newsnight probe into allegations against Savile had been prevented. A few weeks later Newsnight was at the centre of controversy again, this time over false allegations of paedophilia against Lord McAlpine. The upshot of these cover-ups and cockups was the resignation of the director general and an unwelcome stain on BBC broadcasting.
Not that RTÉ had anything to feel smug about. The fallout from the Prime Time libelling of Fr Reynolds in May 2011 continued into 2012 with official enquiries, huge fines, editorial heads rolling and a more muted approach to current affairs, with few Prime Time programmes of any distinction and an over-abundance of earnest documentary obituaries for our dead economy.
Still, the Olympics arrived to lift some of the doom and gloom. A brilliantly-staged event, its coverage was also brilliant – not just on the BBC, where flag-waving was jettisoned in favour of a cheering inclusivity, but on RTÉ, too, whose commentators matched and often excelled their British counterparts.
Sport has always been one of RTÉ's strongest suits and it excelled again in its Euro 2012 coverage, even if Trappatoni and his muppets were plainly intent on turning the Irish challenge into a nightmare.
But let's obliterate that debacle from our memory and focus instead on the year's most impressive television achievements, of which there were quite a few.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
RTÉ has been frantically talking up the third season of Love/Hate as if it were The Sopranos or The Wire rather than a tacky tale of lowlifes behaving extremely badly. Yes, it was grippingly done, but in an almost cartoonish way, as the characters were afforded no real depth or complexity.
For these qualities, you had to look abroad, notably to the first season of Homeland (RTÉ Two), in which the viewer took pleasure not only from the canny plot-turns but also from the performances of Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, who brought such shadings to their roles that you cared both about what they might do and what might befall them. There's been a slight air of desperation about the contrivances of the second series, but overall this has been a superior drama.
So, too, was Borgen (BBC4), yet another Danish series of real quality and with an outstanding performance by Sidse Babett Knudsen as a politician having to confront rivalry and intrigue on becoming the country's first female prime minister.
TG4 is to be applauded for screening Breaking Bad, with Bryan Cranston as a middle-aged teacher in Albuquerque who tries to support his family by manufacturing drugs and finds himself running a crystal meths empire. The blackest of comedies, this has been a deserved cult success.
One of the summer's guilty pleasures was Inspector Montalbano (BBC4), in which shaggy-dog plotting was redeemed by the engaging performance of Luca Zingaretti in the title role.
However, there was no guilt attached to watching BBC Two's The Hollow Crown, superbly imagined and performed versions of Shakespeare's history plays. BEST DOCUMENTARIES
Having cancelled its frequently excellent Arts Live strand, RTÉ only came up with one arts documentary of note, the absorbing Edna O'Brien: Life, Stories, directed by Charlie McCarthy. I liked, too, Return to Farmleigh, a touching film by Ann Marie O'Callaghan in which an ailing Miranda Guinness returned with her sons to the house (now government property) in which they'd grown up.
There were two outstanding BBC2 films about the English capital. In 7/7: One Day in London, various people who'd been caught up in the 2007 bombings recalled with wrenching eloquence their ordeals and that of their loved ones. More ambitiously, London: The Modern Babylon, directed by Julian Temple, succeeded brilliantly in evoking the city's spirit through archive footage and interviews. It reminded me of Terence Davies's beautiful Of Time and the City, which was about growing up in Liverpool.
And Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle (BBC4) was a lovely film. Enshrining the concert and interview she gave there for RTÉ's Other Voices series, Maurice Linnane's film also featured interviews with those who were involved in the visit, from the man who'd collected her at the airport to producer Philip King.
The film caught this wonderful singer just before calamity overtook her and it was very affecting.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
Twenty Twelve (BBC Two), a spoof fly-on-the-wall documentary series about preparations for the London Olympics, was very droll, with terrific playing by Hugh Bonneville, Olivia Colman and especially Jessica Hynes as an idiot PR woman spouting gobbledegook.
Moone Boy (Sky One) was more charming than funny and began to run out of ideas as it neared its end. Still, Chris O'Dowd's love letter to his home town of Boyle had quirky performances, not least from David Rawle as the boy in question. I gather that English fans are planning pilgrimages to the location – a pity, then, that Boyle's only hotel has closed down.
However, Girls (Sky Atlantic) was the year's smartest comedy series. Scripted and directed by Lena Dunham, who was also its lead performer, it made headlines for its explicitness, but in its fidelity to life as it's actually lived it showed up such obvious predecessors as Sex in the City as peddlers of phoney fantasies.
Oh, and it was also extremely funny.