Forum told of need for further diversity in Irish media

Future of Media Commission hears that more funding needed to improve arts coverage

Irish media outlets need to be more diverse, and representation of LGBTQ people, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities is needed, the Future of Media Commission heard today.

Speaking at a webinar which discussed the role of public service media, Christine Monk, a cultural publicist, noted that many people's voices are still being left out.

“The voices of people of colour, members of the Travelling community, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people, the media have begun to tell their stories. And they often do so through their poetry, music and words.

“If they are funded to do so, the will is there to broaden the narrative, to give more people a voice through the media.”


She also called for more funding to be given to media organisations so they can increase their coverage of the arts by hiring more culture reporters.

Chairwoman of the National Campaign for the Arts Angela Dorgan said public service media coverage of the arts needs to equal sports coverage. She said that research conducted a few years ago revealed that in an average year Irish people attended more paid arts events than GAA championship matches.

“While sport features in every news bulletin and daily newspapers, and schedules are regularly cleared for sporting events, the arts are often nowhere to be seen or heard,” she said.

She called for the introduction of a daily arts bulletin, which would include listings for local and regional shows, performances and exhibitions.

She also said many Irish artists struggle to get played on Irish radio stations and this needs to be rectified.

Irish subtitles for English-language shows

Chief executive of Paralympics Ireland Miriam Malone said more representation of people with disabilities is needed.

“Include people with disabilities across all media platforms. This is currently not visible in Ireland.”

She said that people with disabilities should be included across public service programming, for example in panel discussions, quiz shows and entertainment shows.

“[We would also ask] to increase direct coverage of key disability sports events, for example the Paralympic games.”

The commission was also told that Irish language programming should increase so as to encourage people to speak the language.

One way to achieve this is by reducing the number of bought-in programmes already available on streaming services, according to general secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge Julian de Spáinn.

He also supported the Irish subtitling of English-language programmes.

Panellists also expressed support for a household media charge, but stressed that taxpayers must be getting value for money and public service broadcasting needed to improve before the introduction of any such charge.