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Some Good News For The Irish Media Industry

Any good news in light of the ongoing lockdown is likely to be greeted even more warmly than usual and nowhere more so than in the Irish media sector.

Grappling with falling revenues, the switch to online and competition from tech giants, there is a glimmer of light with the announcement of a scheme to support Irish broadcasting to the tune of €40m.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton unveiled the Sound and Vision 4 Scheme to support Irish broadcasters with investment of over €40m over the next three years.

“This Scheme is supporting Irish broadcasters to undertake imaginative and innovative programming that projects the uniquely Irish experience. Our heritage is our greatest asset and public service broadcasting must reflect the diversity of Irish culture.’ said Mr Bruton.

“Creative content has an enormous role to play in helping communities understand and mobilize around the major challenges of our time. Climate disruption will be a focus of this year’s Scheme. It is the defining issue of this generation and broadcasters play a crucial role in informing the public on the nature of the challenge. There will also be a focus on initiatives to develop local and community broadcasting and projects with lower funding levels.”

The Sound & Vision Scheme is funded by the TV license fee from the Broadcasting Fund and is administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The Scheme supports the production of high-quality TV and radio programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience.

The Scheme is reviewed every three years. The most recent review found that Ireland is unlikely to see significant indigenous content reflecting Irish culture, heritage and diversity unless there is public intervention and highlighted the value and impact of the Scheme.

In December 2019, the Government announced a Commission on the future of Irish Public Service Broadcasting. The Commission, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith will review whether this innovative scheme should play a greater role as technology and consumer preferences evolve.

The Minister’s approval will allow the BAI to launch the scheme and to seek applications. It is estimated that the fund will have an annual value in excess of €14 million.

The main changes to Sound and Vision 4 include:

  • Digital First Principle – facilitates the distribution of content on digital media first to try capture younger audiences where they tend to view their media
  • Initiatives to develop local and community broadcasting – the scheme will allocate funds on an 85%/15% ratio TV/Radio basis
  • The BAI aim to establish specific support measures for projects with lower funding levels in the community radio and TV sectors on a rolling basis with a less onerous application process and a maximum funding limit available

The BAI’s aim is to have 2 or 3 open funding rounds annually with additional ancillary measures to focus on adult/media literacy and global issues – initially climate change.

Stakeholder workshops with industry will be facilitated by the BAI to improve communications with broadcasters and producers in the industry.

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