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BAI: ‘There is a risk that Irish-made TV content could become marginalised’

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland said it’s important that the lives and values of the Irish people be represented in TV programming.

Pictured (LtoR) Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) Chairperson Bob Collins, Chief Executive of the BAI Michael O'Keefe and Managing Director Ipsos MRBI Damian Loscher launching the BAI public consultation on draft strategy statement 2014 -16 yesterday.
Pictured (LtoR) Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) Chairperson Bob Collins, Chief Executive of the BAI Michael O'Keefe and Managing Director Ipsos MRBI Damian Loscher launching the BAI public consultation on draft strategy statement 2014 -16 yesterday.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THERE IS A stark imbalance between TV content that is made outside Ireland and content that is home grown, said the Broadcasting Authority’s Chairperson Bob Collins.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) public consultation on its strategy for the next three years, he said that in recent years there has been a “remarkable growth in the number of channels accessible to Irish audiences and that this has created an imbalance in how much Irish-made programming is being consumed by the Irish audience”.

He added that relevant Irish content for Irish audiences must have a central place in the future of broadcasting.

Diversity

He said that it is important that Irish audiences have access to diversity in Irish programming.

Collins said it was an “undesirable shift” to have domestic TV content marginalised stating that it was important that the lives and values of “the people who live on this island” are represented.

He said that while there has been an increase in external channels being watched by Irish audiences, he said this was not “a threat” but that these channels, producers, distributors of foreign content have no commitment to representing the Irish audience and have no obligation to invest in Ireland.

“There is a risk that Irish-made content could become marginalised in Irish peoples’ lives, we have to be aware that this might happen,” he said.

High quality Irish content

One of the objectives in the new strategy is to “develop and implement schemes to support the production of high quality Irish content that add to the diversity of programming available to audiences in the state”.

Collins added that the BAI was committed to “stimulating and encouraging good journalism” and also to encourage Irish-made programme content of good quality, which is what their aim is over the next three years.

When asked if encouraging Irish-made programming would feature distributing some of the licence fee to other broadcasters, such as TV3, to produce Irish made programmes, Bob Collins said that the review the BAI did into public funding and public service broadcasting did not propose any change in the distribution of the licence fee.

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Supporting broadcasters

He added: “We want to look to the positive. We are committed to the notion that broadcasters should be supported – both publicly funded broadcasters and independent broadcasters.”

In the BAI’s review of public funding, they recommended a number of changes in regards to RTE, such as further cost reductions in RTE, the cost of in house and independent production and advertising.

When put to the him that the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources had largely ignored the BAI’s recommendations he said he did not think the rebalancing they had suggested had been rejected. He said:

We will continue to discharge responsibility as actively as we can, but there will always be tensions between regulators and broadcasters and between the government and regulators.

The BAI’s draft strategy is now available to view online on the BAI Future website. Submissions from the public are welcome and encouraged.

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