Radio stations need support for Irish Language programming NUIG study finds

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Galway Daily news Radio stations need support for Irish Language programming NUIG study finds

Radio stations in Ireland need greater support to produce Irish Language programming a recently released report from NUI Galway states.

The report is based on research into the use of Irish in our country’s radio stations, with the exception of those which broadcast exclusively in Irish.

The aims of the research were to identify what people working in radio felt were the obstacles to Irish language programming, and the opportunities for it in the future.

Dr John Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Irish at NUIG who wrote the report said that it shows that while there is some “high quality” Irish Language programming on stations that broadcast in English, the overall output remains low on most stations.

“The sector as a whole requires additional support and guidance with developing Irish language material and there is an opportunity for greater collaboration with Irish language organisations.

“New legislation about online safety and media regulation currently being discussed provides an opportunity to deal with these issues and ensure a central place for Irish in the future media landscape.”

The project involved working with a range of commercial, community, public service, and regional radio stations.

Dr Walsh spoke with representatives from Flirt FM and Galway Bay FM here in Galway, along with Athlone Community Radio; Highland Radio; iRadio NEAR FM; Newstalk; Ocean FM; Radio Kerry and RTÉ radio services other than Radió na Gaeltachta.

Among the issues highlighted in the report were the commercial radio stations view Irish language programming as a risk, and a lack of resources and time for developing content.

All independent stations need greater support with Irish language broadcasting, a particularly acute problem with community radio due to its voluntary nature.

It was also noted that there was no appreciable difference between radio stations serving the Gaeltacht, and those with none within their broadcast area.

Recommendations from the report:

  • The Irish language organisation Oireachtas na Gaeilge should receive more long-term support for its work in developing radio output in Irish.
  • The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to articulate more clearly the work of its Irish language team and develop training and work placement opportunities.
  • The possibilities of sharing existing programmes or creating new syndicated content in Irish should be explored.
  • Following Covid-19, broadcasters should seek sponsorship for Irish language content.
  • Funding for original Irish language audiovisual content should be covered in the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.
  • The Broadcasting Act should be amended to ensure that all radio stations produce their own Irish language content for broadcast and on digital platforms. Stations covering Gaeltacht should have more material in Irish.

This research was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, whose Chief Executive, Michael O’Keefe, said that they were happy to support this, the third phase of Dr Walsh’s project.

“The research findings raise some interesting points in relation to Irish language programming commitments,” he said.

“While it is clear that there are certain broadcasters who are active drivers for improvement and commitment in the area of Irish language programming, challenges in the delivery of this programming remain to be addressed across the sector as a whole.”

To read the full document ‘Research on Use of the Irish language on Radio – Phase 3’ see: https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/handle/10379/16584 and www.bai.ie.