3.5 hours of Irish language content on average broadcast on radio stations

3 May 2018

In new research published by two senior academics regarding the use of Irish on the radio in the Republic of Ireland, it is reported that 3.5 hours per week is the average amount of time allocated to Irish language or bilingual content, repeat programming included. 

Dr. John Walsh from NUI Galway and Dr. Rosemary Day from Limerick University conducted in-depth research on 59 radio stations in the State in 2017, including commercial and community stations, as well as RTÉ. 

The report entitled ‘Research on the Use of Irish on Radio’ was presented to the Oireachtas Committee on the Gaeltacht and Irish at a meeting on Tuesday 1st May.  According to the report, the hours allocated to Irish language or bilingual content is 3.5 hours per week on average. This includes repeat broadcast, purchased content and content that has been previously broadcast on other stations. The research also indicated that Irish language content was frequently broadcast outside of peak hours. Furthermore, it was found that Irish language content was usually light, with titles such as ‘Ceol agus Craic’, often focused on traditional Irish music rather than mainstream interests, and that there was rarely Irish language content that focused on current affairs, for example.

Four stations- one ‘national’ station (broadcasting throughout the Republic of Ireland), two commercial stations and one community station- that were not broadcasting any Irish language content when the research was conducted in 2017. One of the local commercial stations mentioned in the report has since undertaken to include an Irish language programme on its schedule and the other three stations have committed to tackling the lack of Irish on their scedules.

Following the meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on the Gaeltacht and Irish, Dr John Walsh told Aerthonnta:  

"We would like to thank the Oireachtas Committee on the Gaeltacht and Irish for inviting us to present our research. 

 We focused on the first stage of our research which was conducted in 2017 and the results were based on that year. The second stage of our research is ongoing with the support of Conradh na Gaeilge and the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, NUI Galway.  

 We have written to all of the radio stations and from the information we have received so far, it is clear that some of the stations which were not broadcasting Irish language content last year, have undertaken to remedy this. We thank the stations for their cooperation and we look forward to publishing the results of the second stage of our research towards the end of this year.” 

The research is based on radio stations in the State that operate in English primarily and therefore RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Raidió na Life, and any other stations that broadcast in Irish on platforms other than FM or without official licences were not included. Reference was made to Irish language stations at the meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on the Gaeltacht and Irish, however, and one of the recommendations made was that a national Irish language radio station focused on young people should be established. Dr. Day told the committee:

 “We would like to see a national Irish language station for young people, similar to Raidió na Life in Dublin, but with paid presenters.”

 The report by Dr. Walsh and Dr. Day is available here: 

https://audioresearchcentre.wordpress.com/research/

 A video of the presentation before the Oireachtas Committee on the Gaeltacht and Irish can be viewed here: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=38308&&CatID=127 (the presentation begins at 37'32")