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Sinn Féin wants to hear more Irish music on the radio

One of the party’s MEPs wants a quota system introduced.

Two more tunes, please.
Two more tunes, please.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN MEP Liadh Ní Riada wants to meet Communications Minister Alex White to discuss the lack of Irish music on radio.

Ní Riada, whose late father was composer Seán Ó Riada, said Ireland “is recognised worldwide for its rich cultural heritage”, adding that “our extremely talented musicians and composers are central to this”.

“Unfortunately those involved in the Irish music industry are struggling to make ends meet due to the lack of radio airplay they get on our national radio stations.

“It is extremely difficult for Irish music to compete with the multinational music companies of mainly Britain, the USA and Australia who dominate the broadcasting sector in Ireland. The reality is that the broad spectrum of Irish music in Ireland is given very little consideration on radio and gets less than 10% of the annual airplay,” Ní Riada said.

The Ireland South MEP, who is on the European Parliament’s Culture and Education committee, said White should look into introducing a quota for Irish music airplay.

“In France they managed to legislate for 40% airplay in 1996 because of language and culture. I strongly believe that Ireland must now be given similar consideration.”

Sinn Fein European Elections Campaigns Liadh Ní Riada Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said that while it “might be possible to introduce a quota system based on language (similar to that used in France), a system based, for example, on the nationality of the musicians, singers or producers is unlikely to be permitted as it would discriminate against works produced by nationals of other member states”.

Brian Farrells Funerals Scenes Alex White Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

They said the department fully supports promoting Irish music, but noted that the policy approach taken to this issue “must be consistent with EU and Irish regulatory structures”.

It is also important that it takes account of the right of broadcasters to determine the type of programming and content they wish to broadcast – subject, of course, to meeting relevant licensing and legislative obligations.

“It is particularly important to ensure that any quota system does not infringe on Article 18 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which expressly prohibits discrimination based on nationality, and other provisions governing the fundamental freedoms under the Treaty, such as article 49 on freedom of establishment and article 56 on free movement of services, in respect of nationals of other member states.”

The spokesperson added that, on foot of the White’s engagement with relevant industry representatives, an inter-departmental process has been established to “explore possible options”. The communications and arts departments are due to meet relevant interest groups over the summer.

The spokesperson said White would get in touch with Ní Riada to discuss her suggestion.

This MEP is going to speak only ‘as Gaeilge’ in Brussels for a week

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Órla Ryan

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