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Minister Eamon Ryan says challenge for Irish broadcasters is to ensure they are at the forefront of new technologies

New media, such as itunes, MP3 players and the Internet, now pose more of a threat to the independent broadcasting sector than RTE does, a broadcasting conference hosted by the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) heard today.

Over 120 senior members of the Irish broadcasting industry today attended the inaugural broadcasting conference hosted by the IBI which was entitled “Towards 2012 – The Future for Independent Broadcasting in Ireland”.

David Tighe, Chairperson of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, told conference delegates that new media has become a very strong competitor for independent broadcasters.
“Tradition would dictate that RTÉ is the big competitor for independent broadcasters, both in radio and television. But, in fact, new media is becoming more of a competitor than the state broadcaster. Instant gratification is key to consumers and this has found its way into broadcasting through ITunes, MP3’s and the internet. We need to be creative to bring the buzz that was associated with live broadcasting back into vogue. The answer is relevant content, which is what allows us to offer a product that internet sites or IPod’s cannot match.”

David Tighe added that digital broadcasting is a hot topic and brings mixed emotions from broadcasters.

“Some embrace the change and the opportunities it presents, while others shy away from it. For television the BCI’s DTT Multiplex Licensing document sets out the digital future clearly, however the same cannot be said for radio where there is no end to the uncertainty that exists. Stories of radio stations and groups in the UK pulling back from digital radio broadcasting does nothing to ease the situation in Ireland. With a downturn in the economy expected, can we afford to continue to invest in digital or continue to see it as “the way forward”?”

“Digital is a long term investment but do we continue to invest in digital without knowing where this return on investment will come from? As the dominant force in Irish broadcasting, it is up to members of the IBI to shape the future of the landscape in which we operate. It is up to us to lead the industry not be led by it and, in our view, this is a most opportune time for the inaugural IBI Broadcasting Conference.”

Speaking at the conference, Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said that digital is the buzz world and that the challenges for Irish broadcasters is to ensure that they are to the forefront of new technologies.

“Recent years have seen an explosion in the number and variety of new platforms through which audio and audio-visual content is made available and can be accessed. Traditional broadcasters themselves are exploiting new technologies – from pod-casting to MP3 players to web-streaming to the provision of content for mobile consumption. The situation is changing, digital is the buzz word and roles are blurring and converging.

“Globalisation is a significant theme in the television broadcasting sector. More and more content from jurisdictions outside Ireland is becoming available and the challenge to Irish broadcasters is to remain relevant and popular.”

Minister Ryan also spoke about the proposed Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which will carry on the existing functions of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and also have increased supervisory functions with regard to public service broadcasters.

“The proposed BAI will bring efficiencies and will recognise our single competitive market and I believe it will evolve what is already a successful regulatory system. The BAI will focus on the strategic issues such as licensing strategy, development and review of broadcasting codes and will also fulfil an advisory and review role in relation to the activities and funding of public service broadcasters. In the is regard, the BAI will have a key role in developing Irish broadcasting as it confronts new challenges and seizes new opportunities.”

The conference also hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Radio Play for Irish Artists’ which was chaired by Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press. Contributors included:

  • Michael O Keeffe, Broadcasting Commission of Ireland
  • Colm O’Sullivan, Programme Director, Red FM
  • Dave Kelly, Programme Director, FM104
  • Steve Wall, lead singer with The Walls

Contributors to a panel debate on the ‘Changing Landscape in Broadcasting in Ireland’ included:

  • Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson of Communicorp Group
  • Dan Healy, CEO and co-founder of Wilton Radio
  • Paul Claffey, CEO of Mid West Radio
  • Celine Craig, Director of Broadcasting and Deputy CEO of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland
  • David McRedmond, CEO of TV3

The topic ‘Get a Bigger Slice of the Advertising Cake’ was addressed by David Sneddon, Managing Director of Mindshare Ireland and Alan Cox, CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group while Rita Clifton, CEO of Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy, made a presentation entitled ‘Brand Development – The Key to Success’.

A podcast of each of the sessions will be available on www.uniquemedia.ie/ibi
from Wednesday evening (Wed March 6)

For further details, please contact:
Breda Brown
Unique Media
Tel: (01) 497 87 38 or (087) 2487120

Editorial Note on the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI):
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative organisation for Ireland’s independent commercial broadcasting sector. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of the independent commercial broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector. It seeks to achieve fair treatment for its members within the broadcasting environment through appropriate legislation, regulation and funding.

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