Parliamentary Question: Internet Pornography

Parliamentary Question for the Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Pat Rabbitte TD)

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on introducing legislation to block children from accessing adult Internet sites on their smart phones; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Reply

The protection of children in so far as this issue is concerned is paramount and there are a number of initiatives already in place in this respect, notably through the Department of Education’s resources and support for parents and children as well as the various initiatives carried out by the Office for Internet Safety. It is also essential that children, young people and parents are educated as to the risks that can be found online, that parents and teachers are supported in explaining these issues to children and that the optimal technical solution to protect children is identified. In this regard, there are a range of tools available online to assist parents in managing internet access. The industry also shares in the responsibility to take all reasonable steps to protect children and I have met the Internet Services providers (ISPs) and mobile operators to explore these issues in detail. The industry has already rolled out a variety of measures and resources, with software and other tools available to help parents ensure online safety for their children.

I remain to be convinced that a blanket or ‘default on’ blocker such as that implemented in the UK would achieve the desired ends particularly in respect of smart phones and other mobile devices. I also question whether, in fact, it is open to Governments to impose a blanket or general obligation of this nature on ISPs. What we need to ensure is that the State responds appropriately and in a manner which is effective, workable and respects the rights of individuals. Work is continuing to identify measures which might prove effective. To this end I set up the Internet Content Governance Advisory Group in December of last year. The Group are considering issues such as that raised by the Deputy and will report to me in May. I intend to bring this report to Cabinet and the Joint Oireachtas Committe.

Posted under Communications, Parliamentary Questions

Televised inter-county GAA games should be available on free-to-air TV – Buttimer

Friday, March 28th 2014

  • Jerry Buttimer, a GAA member, former club chairman and former member of the GAA marketing committee, has called on the GAA to ensure that any televised inter-county championship fixtures are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

I am concerned at reports that the GAA is at an advanced state of negotiations with Sky Sports on a deal regarding the television broadcasting of some inter-county championship matches. Given the social and cultural importance of GAA inter-county championship fixtures I am of the view that all televised inter-county fixtures should be available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

I have written to the GAA outlining my concerns and asking that it reconsider any arrangement that would result in inter-county championship games not being available on free-to-air TV on the island of Ireland.  I have also asked the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to consider looking into this issue.

The GAA is part of the fabric of Irish society. For generations free-to-air broadcasting of inter-county games has been a focus of Sunday afternoons for many families.  It is these same people who enjoy watching championship matches that give freely of their own time to help run their local club.  If the GAA enter a contract with a subscription only television channel, many of these same people will not get to watch and enjoy the fixtures which are to be televised.

The GAA is a volunteer-led, community-based organisation which relies on the efforts of amateur players.  One of its core fundamental principles is the importance of community and every decision taken should reflect this ethos.  The broadcasting of inter-county championship fixtures on a subscription-only basis risks undermining this principle.  Given the significance of the GAA in Irish society, the organisation should make every effort to ensure that all inter-county championship games shown on TV are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

Copy of Letter to GAA available here.

Posted under Communications, National Work, Sport

Saorview re-scan must be completed by April 2 – Buttimer

13 March 2014

  • Saorview television viewers to complete the re-scan process by April 2, 2014 to ensure that they continue receive RTE One.

Saorview logoAll TV viewers who use the Saorview service must ensure that they re-scan their televisions before April 2 so that they continue to receive RTÉ One.  Last December Saorview launched RTÉ One in HD format, following this launch the broadcast of the standard format of the station will cease.  For viewers to continue to receive RTÉ One they must ensure that they have completed the re-scan process, full details of which are available on www.saorview.ie.

Preparations for the launch of RTÉ One HD began last October, since then over 60% of households have already completed the re-scan process.  For all of those who have already re-scanned their televisions and are now receiving RTÉ One HD there is no need to do it again.  Only those households who have not re-scanned their televisions must do so before April 2.

On screen messaging will appear from Tuesday March 25 as a further reminder of the need to complete this process.  Over the next three weeks I would encourage everybody to check with friends and neighbours who may need help in completing this process to ensure that they can continue to access RTÉ One television.

Since the switch of analogue television signals in October 2012 Saorview has enabled TV viewers to access high quality digital TV.  Over the coming months and years the Saorview service will continue to be developed, it is expected that later this year a HD version of TG4 will be launched.  Each of these developments will require a re-scan so that viewers can continue to receive the latest high quality free-to-air television.  Over the next three weeks I hope we can all work together to ensure that everyone can continue to view RTÉ One beyond April 2 without interruption.

Posted under Communications, Cork, National Work