Radio stations ‘need support’ with Irish language broadcasting

Report shows provision of radio programming in Irish is ‘minimal’

The Research on Use of the Irish Language on Radio report looks at opportunities and obstacles faced by the languages in broadcasting. Photograph: Getty

The Research on Use of the Irish Language on Radio report looks at opportunities and obstacles faced by the languages in broadcasting. Photograph: Getty

 

Radio stations operating in Ireland need greater support with Irish language broadcasting, according to the author of a new report into the sector.

The report, Research on Use of the Irish Language on Radio, investigates the views of broadcasters on the opportunities and obstacles they face regarding Irish language radio programming in the future.

Conducted by NUI Galway and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), the study found that Irish language output among the radio stations sampled remains very low, is broadcast mostly at off-peak hours, and is often seen as a risk for commercial radio stations.

‘Bilingual programming’

“Once stations broadcasting in Irish are removed from the equation, the overall provision of radio programming in Irish is minimal, at approximately 2 per cent of overall output,” said Dr John Walsh, senior lecturer at the school of languages at NUI Galway, and author of the report.

“This includes repeats and bilingual programming which can sometimes contain relatively little Irish. There is no appreciable difference between stations broadcasting to Gaeltacht areas and other broadcasters,” he added.

With the exception of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, the total weekly output of Irish language programming on RTÉ radio is six hours and 8 minutes. This represents an increase from four hours and 15 minutes since a previous survey was carried out in 2018.

Material in Irish

iRadio, a regional radio station broadcasting to the northwest, midlands and northeast, reported the highest level of Irish language programming of any participating station, a total of 36 hours and 30 minutes per week.

While some stations have built successful Irish language programmes over time and were positive about further development of material in Irish, many had different interpretations of the requirements placed upon them under licensing provisions.