Ireland to get Christian – not just religious – radio

September 10th, 2005 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland has announced plans to seek applications for a significant number of new radio stations:

three new regional youth services, a quasi-national speech-based service, a national Christian service on AM with FM relays, a classic rock service for Dublin and the commuter belt, a multi-city classic gold/smooth service (single contract), and Country and Irish music services for the North-East and Mid-West regions.

Note that the previous mentions of a ‘religious’ station is now specifically a Christian station. This is not particularly surprising given the high proportion of the population who list themselves as Christian, and especially Catholic – the 2002 census indicates that over 88% of the population are Catholic and 93% are Christian (not including those who list themselves as ‘lapsed Catholic’). Incidentally, for those interested in the religion results, 1,028 people list themselves as agnostic, and 500 as atheist – I would have put the figures the other way around. With 138,264 people listing ‘no religion’ (as opposed to not answering the question) this category is actually in second place behind Catholicism.

To return to the Christian radio station, though, the station is going to face some major difficulties. Irish broadcasting regulation places rather stringent requirements on broadcasters regarding their coverage of news and current affairs:

(1) Every sound broadcasting contractor shall ensure that—
( a ) all news broadcast by him is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of his own views;
( b ) the broadcast treatment of current affairs, including matters which are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate, is fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of his own views: Provided that should it prove impracticable in relation to a single broadcast to apply this paragraph, two or more related broadcasts may be considered as a whole, if the broadcasts are transmitted within a reasonable period of each other;

So, how will a Christian station, licensed and mandated as such, remain impartial in coverage of religious matters? It may be possible to define questions such as Is There A God? as matters of private debate, even if occurring in public, but there are many other debates around religion that cannot be so easily dismissed. This could be interesting.

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