Possible new regulatory environment for Irish broadcasting?

July 13th, 2005 | by aobaoill |

RTÉ reports claims by the NUJ’s General Secretary, Seamus Dooley, that some broadcast oulets have sent letters threatening staff if they joined the union. He was speaking to an Oireachtas committee which is hearing submissions on the Broadcasting Bill.
[As a minor aside, the very useful Oireachtas site doesn’t have any record of a Broadcasting Bill currently pending. Perhaps the hearings are about the possibility of a future such bill.]
Anyhow, the NUJ proposes that all those applying for broadcasting licenses be required to allow staff to join a union. My understanding was that BCI contracts have included a similar provision in the past – perhaps it was not explicitly a right to unionise, but rather a general proviso about the respecting the rights of workers. Perhaps a reader with access to a current BCI contract could let me know (the ones I have to hand are somewhat out of date).
Also reported is that Dooley called for a future broadcasting authority (yes, they’re planning to reorganise the regulatory environment again) tp have two distinctly different wings to cater for commercial and public service broadcasting. This is, of course, to do with the plan to make RTÉ answerable to a reformulated BCI.
I think most readers can guess where I’m going with this: where would community broadcasting fit in Dooley’s plan? I’m of the faction that believes community broadcasting isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a localised version of public service broadcasting. Yes, both stand in contra-distinction to the market-driven model, but those of us who prioritise notions of access and participation worry that these values can sometimes be threatened by public service-style notions of quality. If community broadcasting was under the remit of a public service regulatory arm what impact would it have on development of the field? (If it got any attention, given the relative size of RTÉ). The differences between community and commercial broadcasting, on the other hand, need little elaboration. (Except, perhaps, to note that if community and commercial broadcasters were under one arm, and public service – RTÉ, TnaG, possibly Anna Livia – are under another, what would be the purpose of merging the regulatory structures?)
Of course, I don’t think Dooley considered the community broadcasting field at all. He’s merely representing the views of his members, broadcasting professionals, primarily based in the public service model.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.