Funding for Irish TV productions

September 7th, 2007 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

It’s always interesting to consider the difference in scale between the costs of radio and television programming. Today the BCI announced €8.7m in funding for television programming, spread across 54 projects (out of 121 applications). With over €150k on average being provided for each project, one of the figures released by the BCI was the proportion of total cost represented by the funding.

Two projects receive €650k each, for 22% (The Eclipse, a feature on RTE) and 27% (Rasai na Gaillimhe, a drama on TG4) respectively of the total cost – indicating that the programmes will cost between €2.4m and €3m. My initial glance finds two even more expensive projects – “The Daisy Chain”, a feature for BBC Northern Ireland, which gets €200k of a total budget of around €5.5m; and “Bridget Cleary” for RTE, which gets €250k of a total budget of €4.2m.

It’s interesting to see BBC N.I. eligible for funding – the money for the scheme comes from the Irish license fee, paid only in the republic. I suspect that the criteria – “programmes based on Irish culture, heritage and experience” – coupled with EU rules on the open market require that the BCI consider applications from outside the state on an equal basis. Indeed, the criteria for eligibility state: “Individuals, Independent Producers, Production Companies and Broadcasters may apply for funding under the scheme. Individuals must be Irish or EU nationals or residents. Companies must be incorporated in Ireland or the EU.” Programmes produced must be broadcast on radio or television, but there is no mention of where this must happen.

If this is not a result of EU requirements it’s obviously a big (unintended) loophole. If it is required, one could imagine that those producing content aimed at Irish emigrant populations across Europe should be applying to the scheme, and viewing it as an important source of funding. Note, also, that no mention is made of the need for the station to be licensed, which could be interesting for any free radio outlets looking for cash. Indeed, on thinking further, as an Irish national, I could seek funding for content to be broadcast on outlets here in Urbana-Champaign – the requirement is simply for the applicant to be an EU national, and for the content to be broadcast. Perhaps I should think further about this!

My quick glance of funding also suggests that, unsurprisingly, projects from RTE and TG4 are significantly more expensive than those proposed by smaller stations, with funding received reflecting this – perpetuating the old adage that it takes money to make money.

Finally I was very interested to see that NEAR FM has received funding for a documentary to air on DCTV, titled “History of Community Radio in Ireland.” Reflecting the points made above, the €30k they receive reflects 49% of their budget.

  1. 2 Responses to “Funding for Irish TV productions”

  2. By Patrick O'Flaherty on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    Not a big a loophole as you may think, the requirements are such that the funded programmes must be broadcast on a free service with near universal coverage in the republic in the case of TV and RTÉ or a BCI licensed service in the case of radio.

    There is also a requirement that the programme(s) be broadcast in peak times.

    The application must also include a commitment to broadcast the programme from one of these broadcasters.

  3. By Andrew Ó Baoill on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    Ah-ha – thanks for pointing this out. I had read through to section 1.2 of the guide for applicants, which lists a whole pile of requirements. Thinking I’d read the relevant sections, I’d failed to see 1.3, where the statutory requirements (for broadcast “either on a free television service with near universal coverage in the State, or on a cable or MMD system as part of a community content contract for television”, or for radio “on sound broadcasting services licensed by the Commission, or operated by RTÉ”) are listed.

    It’s interesting to consider the TV requirements. BBC NI is a free service in Northern Ireland, and has wide coverage – though not universal – in the State, through cable. It isn’t, however, freely available throughout the state, and isn’t ‘community’ content in the Republic. Should it really have been eligible?

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