Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht

Future of Public Service Broadcasting and Impact of Covid-19 on the Media Sector: Discussion

Photo of Peter FitzpatrickPeter Fitzpatrick (Louth, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the witnesses. In the past few months, the people of Ireland have really appreciated the media. As a politician, I am almost afraid to open the newspapers in the morning or to listen to a radio station in terms of all the bad news but in recent months the information the citizens got on a daily basis from the national television and radio stations, the national newspapers but particularly the local newspaper and radio stations was excellent. I come from County Louth. We have a radio station called LMFM and money could not buy the service it provides on a daily basis, especially to older people. It has done a fantastic jobs in the past number of months.

I always say, "Stay local". By that I mean stay in Ireland. I would call myself a channel hopper. If I picked up the remote my wife and the children would go mad because I keep switching stations but, in fairness, I have got to know the Irish stations in the past nine months and whether it is news, sports, drama or documentaries they have done a fantastic job and really put their shoulder to the wheel. I am a sportsperson and I believe they have done a great job in terms of the coverage of sport in the national and local media. It is something I took for granted but I will no longer take it for granted.

This is an opportunity for everybody, especially in terms of publicising. Local stations and local newspapers are struggling but, please God, if we all put our shoulders to the wheel and stay local we can provide an opportunity in terms of some great programmes. I was a fan of "Normal People". The 12 episodes were fantastic. They way it was put out, two episodes a night, made it even better but I would get annoyed when I read the credits at the end of each episode, which said that "Normal People" was an Irish drama, which is great, produced by Element Pictures for BBC 3. That really annoyed me. It was a story about Ireland and I would have loved to see the whole production done in Ireland. The same applies to "Mrs. Brown's Boys". The credits state that it is a BBC 1 presentation. That gets to me. Why were two of the most popular programmes getting all the credits from the UK? I do not give credit often but I am giving credit to Mr. Purcell, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Dooley because what they have done in the past nine months is fantastic. The Irish people should look after our own. Can the witnesses give me one reason as to why we do not keep everything local?


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