BAI commits to ‘exploring’ new Irish language radio options

Paper published in 2018 noted ‘minimal’ presence of Irish language on radio stations

The BAI said it will explore the licensing of at least one new FM radio broadcast service with Irish language content. Photograph: iStock

The BAI said it will explore the licensing of at least one new FM radio broadcast service with Irish language content. Photograph: iStock

 

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has committed to “exploring” the licensing of at least one new FM radio broadcast service with Irish language content and the potential for youth, “niche” and Irish language radio services as part of an increase in Irish language programming.

The BAI announced on Friday its plans for the “promotion and stimulation” of the development of the Irish language through audio-visual programming and broadcasting services as part of its Irish Language Action Plan.

The plan says it strives to “foster a landscape that is representative of, and accessible to, the diversity of Irish society”, adding that it already integrates “Irish language interests” across its programming.

The BAI said it will explore the licensing of a new FM broadcasting service, which would encourage applications from Irish language groups, “when signs of improving revenues and profitability are evident in the broadcasting sector”.

The action plan says it will “facilitate and encourage” applications from people looking to establish television services, particularly from community groups and Irish language groups, and “explore the potential” for youth and other radio services, and the provision of additional Irish language programming.

The BAI will continue awarding at least a quarter of its Sound & Vision funding to Irish language programming, including bilingual programming, while investigating how to deliver increased amounts of funding for Irish language radio programmes, notes the report.

Referencing the 2010-2013 Irish language strategy, the BAI said it aims to play a role in increasing the number of people using State services through Irish and who can access television, radio and print media through the language.

The BAI, which is in the third year of its second Irish Language Scheme or Scéim Teanga 2016-2019, said it has made “significant progress” in its Irish language service since the scheme was introduced in 2013.

“While BAI initiatives to support the Irish language have been in place for a number of years, the Irish Language Action Plan gives a clear articulation of the BAI’s goals, objectives and commitments in this area,” said BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe.

In a paper published last year, Dr John Walsh from NUI Galway and Dr Rosemary Day from Mary Immaculate College at the University of Limerick found the Irish language had a “marginal” and “minimal” presence on radio stations in Ireland.

Their assessment of Irish language programming by 59 radio stations found the language was confined to non-peak hours while no current affairs type programming in Irish was “clearly identifiable”.

They wrote that Irish was too often seen as “a hobby for those who remember Irish from school or a sop to vague licensing requirements” and not a living language that people speak every day. The authors called for the rehiring of an Irish language officers at the BAI and a framework for sharing regular Irish-language content.