Question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources:

To ask the Minister in view of the cultural importance of the Irish music industry and its potential to create employment, the policies to promote the broadcasting of Irish music that he has implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. -Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14th March, 2013

Ref. No. 13458/13


Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte):

The policy approach in regard to the imposition of programming obligations on broadcasters is set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009, which also sets out the objects of our national public service broadcasters. In pursuit of these objects RTÉ and TG4 are charged, inter-alia, with ensuring that programmes reflect the varied elements, which make up the culture of the people of Ireland and “have special regard for the elements which distinguish that culture and in particular the Irish language”. RTÉ and TG4 publish detailed commitments on an annual basis setting out how they intend to meet their public service obligations and objects as set out in the Act. The extent to which the commitments entered into by our two public service broadcasters have been met is reviewed annually by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
Radio and television services, additional to those provided by the national public service broadcasters are matters for the BAI, which is an independent statutory body. Matters in relation to Irish music content on commercial radio are the subject of contractual negotiations between the BAI and commercial radio operators. In submitting their initial licensing applications to the BAI, such broadcasters put forward commitments in regard to how they will deal with a range of broadcast issues including public service commitments and, where appropriate, more specific commitments, for instance, in regard to the playing of Irish music. If they are successful, these commitments form part of the terms and conditions of their actual licence.
This policy approach is seen as appropriate in that it deals with the differing requirements of commercial and public service broadcasting. In relation to commercial broadcasters, it is seen as an effective means of leveraging public service type commitments that takes full account of the specific broadcaster’s business proposal. As for public service broadcasters, it provides an iterative approach that is sufficiently flexible to ensure that the changing needs of Irish society continue to be addressed.