IRELAND’S Culture Minister Catherine Martin has signalled her support for a new Irish language radio service in Ireland.
Ms Martin pointed to new research showing strong interest for such a service among younger audiences across Ireland.
“I am a strong advocate for providing more, and more widely available, Irish language content and services, in particular for young people,” Ms Martin said.
“It is, however, important that we understand not only how young people engage with audio content, both on FM and online, and the level of interest in a new Irish language service, but also what they want from such a service and what it must deliver for them.”
The Minister confirmed her support for a potential new Irish language radio service as the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) published research which highlighted younger listeners’ interest in having greater choice in Irish language audio content.
The research was conducted by the BAI to ascertain the interest in and the potential for a full-time Irish language radio service aimed at the 15-34 audience in Ireland.
Key among the research findings was that nationally, young people still engage with audio content, and radio still remains popular with 87 per cent of respondents listening on a weekly basis.
The research also highlighted that 70 per cent of respondents whose first language is English are interested in, and open to, a new Irish language station.
It added that “this audience are increasingly moving to digital content and having podcasts and sharable clips which complement live radio would be important for any new service”.
Commenting on the research, Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Patrick O'Donovan, said: “The research conducted into the listening habits and needs of young people is very valuable to us and will inform how we approach developments in this area in the coming years.
“It’s clear to me that the evolution of a new high quality radio service for young people has the potential to expose more and more young people to Irish, helping to expand and normalize the use of the language in our society as a whole.”
Minister Martin confirmed the next steps for any potential new radio service will fall under the responsibility of the new media regulator Coimisiún na Meán – which will absorb the functions and staff of the BAI when it is dissolved next month.
“While Coimisiún na Meán, which I will formally establish next month, will be responsible for the licensing of independent radio broadcasting services in Ireland, I have said before that if possible, I would like to see this type of service being put in place for younger people,” Ms Martin confirmed.
“This research will be very useful to An Coimisiún as they consider the wants and needs of Irish radio listeners.”
The research will assist Coimisiún na Meán when considering any new licensing strategies as part of its regulatory activities in ensuring that Irish audiences are served by a diverse range of broadcasting services.