Ireland has three national television channels that receive public funding through an annual licence fee payable by those in possession of a television receiver. Recent indications were that this fee was to be replaced by a new Broadcasting charge, the scope of which has yet to be announced. The publicly funded services also generate advertising revenue. There is one independent commercial channel (TV3),four national radio services and one independent national commercial radio service. Independent radio services are also licensed at a regional and local level.Lyric FM offers a 24 hour dedicated music and arts radio menu as part of the national broadcasting service.
Media ownership in Ireland is dominated by one tycoon who controls two national radio stations as well as holding the largest shareholding in Independent News and Media, Ireland’s largest newspaper publishers. The Minister has promised legislation to regulate media mergers and to promote diversity of ownership and content, in the public interest. A Press Council and an Office of Press Ombudsman was established in January 2008. The Broadcasting Act 2009 repealed earlier legislation and sought to address all aspects of regulation and provision of broadcasting in Ireland. It established the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with new functions relating to public service broadcasting. The Bill places greater emphasis on the needs of viewers and listeners and among other features, makes provision for a “right of reply”.
Fifty percent of RTE broadcast material is domestic product but in the case of the other Irish stations, domestic product content ranges from 27% to 45%. Seven percent of the income of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – derived from the TV licence – is used to commission programmes in the independent sector in Ireland. Entitled Sound & Vision, this grant scheme is designed to support the production of new radio and television programmes in Irish culture, heritage and experience and adult literacy. Budgetary constraints in RTE have reduced its capacity to commission high quality home product and this is particularly noticeable in the area of drama.
As well as their broadcasting role, RTE maintains two orchestras, the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the RTE Concert Orchestra, the RTE Philharmonic Choir and the ConTempo String Q quartet, playing a pivotal role in the arts in the country.
Lehane, 2009 examines the place of interculturalism in Irish public service broadcasting in the context of a newly heterogeneous Ireland. The book examines many aspects of the issue including the depiction of New Nationals on news reports, the question of dedicated intercultural programming, plans by RTE to mainstream such programming and a new effort to hire intercultural personnel in all areas of RTE.