The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has launched its revised Broadcasting Services Strategy (BSS), which provides the framework for the formulation of licencing plans and associated licencing activities by the BAI. It is one of the primary means by which the Authority fulfils its key statutory objective of endeavouring to ensure that the number and categories of broadcasting services in the State best serve the needs of the people of the island of Ireland.
In addition to the licensing of broadcasting services across a number of platforms, the strategy also has a number of related objectives. These include facilitating a mix of voices, opinions and sources of news and current affairs; promoting quality programming in the Irish language; promoting creativity and innovation throughout the Irish audio-visual sector; and working with stakeholders to achieve greater sustainability.
The BAI commissioned an independent report on market structures, dynamics and developments in Irish media to inform the revised BSS. It also considered the findings of a survey of viewer and listener attitudes, and undertook an extensive public consultation to elicit views on its vision for the Irish broadcasting landscape and options for future development.
Under Section 26 (1) (a) of the Broadcasting Act 2009, the BAI is required to prepare a strategy for the provision of broadcasting services in the State that are additional to those provided by RTE and TG4. The current Broadcasting Services Strategy was published in 2012, following a public consultation, and outlines the BAI’s proposed approach to, and a framework for, the licencing of additional services. The media environment has changed significantly since 2012. In addition, the BAI has published a Strategy Statement for the period 2017-2019. A key deliverable of this Statement is “to develop and implement a revised Broadcasting Services Strategy that continues to facilitate dynamic licencing policies and plans and promotes quality programming and supports creativity and innovation in the Irish audio-visual sector and across all BAI activities”
The first BSS, which was published in 2012, anticipated change and evolution in the media landscape. However, the degree of the change and its pace, in particular, have been notable. The broadcasting environment is now one of significant disruption and challenge. In preparing this revised BSS, the BAI was mindful of this environment, the legislative requirements and key economic, regulatory and technological factors. When signs of improving revenues and profitability are evident, the BAI commits to exploring the licensing of at least one new sound broadcasting service on the FM band.
The BAI envisages an Irish media landscape that reflects and shapes who we are. We believe that the people of Ireland, in all their diversity, should be served by a vibrant and dynamic broadcasting sector. To this end, the BSS aims to ensure that Irish audiences are served by a diverse range of broadcasting services that are open and pluralistic in nature. We are grateful to all those who have made submissions to the BAI during the consultation. The feedback we received has greatly informed and shaped our decisions in respect of the revised BSS.
Professor Pauric Travers, Chair – BAI