Dáil debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022: Second Stage (Resumed)


1:10 pm

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Agreed. Some of us do not get as much publicity as others around here but that is the way it is. However, there is, in my view, a great democratic element to this that I welcome.

On the other hand, I believe that mainstream media has a significant role to play but we need to adjust all of that to the realities of modern Irish society. There is one element of this that I would like to talk about. I understand in the Seanad there was an amendment put forward, that was not accepted but that the Minister was sympathetic to, that would make sure that public funding was made available to the commercial radio stations that provide content in the public interest. I do not believe that, for example, RTÉ has a monopoly of public interest. For example, if one has got current affairs on RTÉ and one has local current affairs at the same time on a local radio station that is focusing on the issues, national and local, of that area, why is one heavily subsidised and other not subsidised at all?

Local radio plays a huge part in our society and a very positive role, and there are four elements to it. One is that the stations get paid because they can go to the sound and vision fund. That is for documentaries, etc., but no current affairs or news. Even death notices, which are very important, certainly in rural areas, are not covered. The second element that is not covered is current affairs and the third is local sport. To me, that is all public service broadcasting, as much so as RTÉ showing some World Cup soccer game. I have nothing against it doing those things. I believe, therefore, that it is time, not because they are commercial operators but because they are local and provide basic, fundamental services and there is nobody else to do so, that funding was provided to them.

It is time, too, go ndéanfaí cinnte de go bhfuil cothrom na Féinne á thabhairt don mhionlach sin sa phobal a labhraíonn an Ghaeilge gach uile lá agus a éisteann go rialta le Raidió na Gaeltachta agus TG4. Ba cheart go gcuirfí céatadán áirithe ar leataobh as ciste RTÉ agus go gcaithfí é sin a thabhairt do Raidió na Gaeltachta agus go dtabharfaí cistíocht cheart do TG4. Tá sé chomh daor céanna nó níos daoire clár a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge ná mar atá sé clár a dhéanamh trí Bhéarla. Ag an am céanna tá an chistíocht atá RTÉ ag fáil leis na cláir chéanna a chur amach i bhfad Éireann níos mó. Níl le déanamh ach dul chomh fada le "Morning Ireland", mar shampla, agus breathnú ar an bhfoireann atá ag plé leis sin le hais an dream atá ag plé le "Adhmhaidin" ar Raidió na Gaeltachta le feiceáil go bhfuil dhá phobal ann. Tá pobal amháin ag fáil i bhfad níos mó acmhainní ná an pobal eile.


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