Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

At a recent Easter Rising commemoration ceremony in National University of Ireland Galway, NUIG, the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, suggested that this centenary year has led to a new cultural revival in Ireland, stating that it is a "revival that demands that we put arts and culture at the centre of public policy, in a way that, frankly, we have failed to do until now". The same Taoiseach, together with the Ministers, Deputies Humphreys and Donohoe, only last week launched a cultural Ireland initiative, a plan focused upon and emphasising the importance of arts, culture and music for the next five years, with an emphasis on children learning music from the age of five onwards notable in its objectives.

The Taoiseach reminded us in that keynote address at NUIG that many of those who sacrificed their lives to establish our political freedom were writers, poets and musicians. They were artists who were motivated as much by cultural concerns as anything else. If the Taoiseach is correct, and I believe he is dead right in this matter, then, to date, we politicians have let down the artistic community of Ireland in a big way, and none more so than the Irish musical community that we are representing today with this Bill. Why? It is because in the Ireland of 2016, 100 years after musicians like Eamonn Ceannt made the ultimate sacrifice and died for the country's cultural independence, Irish music, of all genres, is no longer deemed worthy to be played on Irish radio during daylight hours. I am here to urge the representatives of all parties to help me bring back Irish music from night-time to prime time on our airwaves from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If we are serious about protecting our musical culture rather than paying lip-service, the only way it can be achieved is through legislation.

A common concern among the politicians who attended the musical community’s lobbying day for a music quota in this building at the end of September was that the amendment Bill that I am seeking to introduce might contravene EU competition law. However, this is not so. The EU, believe it or not, sanctioned an Irish music quota as far back as the 1990s, soon after Mr. Niall Stokes took over the chair of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI. That was at a time when, according to Mr. Stokes, "very little Irish music was being played on Irish radio and in particular on the big independent stations". He succeeded in winning the support of the board of the BAI for the introduction of a 30% Irish music quota. However, when the independent Irish radio sector got wind of Mr. Stokes's initiative, it made a complaint to the European Commission that the measure was anti-competitive. It is hard to believe that a body of Irish broadcasters would mount a campaign against their fellow citizens working in music, but it is on record that this is what happened.

In a hard-hitting article published in Hot Press magazine and covering an Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, IBI, conference that took place in 2008, Mr. Stokes outlined how he and the chief executive of the BAI, Mr. Michael O’Keeffe, who still holds that position, engaged in detailed negotiations with Brussels and prevailed on the basis of a cultural exception. Mr. Stokes wrote:

It took some persuasion, but it was accepted eventually by the EC that music was an essential part of Ireland’s culture and its national resource - and therefore that it was valid to put measures in place to protect it. And we agreed a definition with the EC of what constituted Irish music.

The acceptance by the EU of the wording that Niall Stokes, Michael O’Keeffe and EU officials hammered out for what constitutes Irish music back then demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the EU is not opposed to the principle that Ireland is entitled to introduce legislation to protect our musical culture. Though there is no clear reason given in Mr. Stokes's Hot Press piece of 2008 for why the amendment was not implemented. The remainder of his article offers stark clues as to who may have been responsible for ensuring that the introduction of an Irish music quota back in the 1990s did not take place. Referring to a Hot Press-run Irish music seminar that took place in the RDS in October 2007, Mr. Stokes described a shocking moment when the then head of Today FM, Mr. Willie O’Reilly, pointed an accusatory finger at Niall and criticised him for seeking to introduce a 30% quota for home-grown music on Irish radio, suggesting that a far more reasonable position had been advanced by Mr. Dave Pennefather of Universal Music, who had asked that 5% of air time be devoted to Irish music. The staggeringly low value that the then head of the Irish division of one of the world’s largest international record companies put on Irish music, and the endorsement of it by the leading independent Irish radio sector boss, may explain why a little further on in the same article, Mr. Stokes wrote, "In the early 1990s, the big urban commercial radio stations were playing as little as 3% Irish music". Mr. Stokes’s condemnation of this figure is blistering, "It amounted to nothing short of a scandalous disregard for Irish music".

If a one-time chairman of the board of the BAI can be outraged to this extent by the manipulating ways of the independent Irish radio sector in collusion with multinational interests, and be outwitted by them, then surely this is a clear indication that nothing short of legislative change in this area has to be implemented in order to enshrine the principle in law. lf the House does not believe that things are as bad as they are for Irish music of all the genres - including rock, pop, indie pop and everything else - then it should take what Mr. Louis Walsh, the Svengali of Irish popular music, had to say recently when he observed that it is a scandal that one of the Dublin stations to be most recently granted a licence plays no Irish music at all. The bottom line for commercial enterprises such as independent radio stations and the multinational powers that feed and shape them is monetary profit, but they cannot be allowed to run roughshod over a nation’s culture in the pursuit of high ratings and advertising revenue. That is where the Government comes in. As elected representatives, it is our duty to protect and nourish the creative spirit of our citizens. As the Taoiseach has rightly admitted, "we have utterly failed them in this regard". Even if the French had not shown us the way, and we all know what they have done, we Irish are operating at a complete disadvantage compared with all our European counterparts because radio audiences throughout Europe still have an appetite to hear a high percentage of their music in their mother tongues. This automatically translates into air time and placement on playlists for their musical communities. The most recent statistics for Ireland show that that a mere three Irish acts registered in the top 50 songs played on Irish radio in recent years.

Let us look at the Canadian system. It is one of the best regimes for promoting and supporting indigenous artists' music and recordings. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, requirements deriving from the Broadcasting Act of Canada mean that radio and television broadcasters must air a certain percentage of content that was at least partly written, produced, presented or otherwise contributed to by a person from Canada. The percentage of air time devoted to Canadian music increased from 25% to 30% in the 1980s and to 35% in 1998. They use the MAPL system to define and identify Canadian content. Some exemptions apply in genres with a limited number of recordings, for example, jazz. We could do the same thing here. We could have a quota. If we got to 30%, we would be absolutely thrilled, but we are not getting to that. The percentages in Canada must be met between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. rather than during off-peak hours.

MAPL is an acronym for the criteria involved: "M" stands for music that must be composed entirely by a Canadian; "A" stands for artist, and the music or lyrics must be performed principally by a Canadian; "P" stands for performance, and the musical selection must consist of a performance that was recorded wholly in Canada, performed wholly in Canada or broadcast live in Canada; and "L" stands for lyrics that are written entirely by a Canadian. There are special cases in which a musical selection may qualify and they are set. The final criteria was added in 1991 to accommodate Bryan Adams's album, "Waking Up the Neighbours", which unusually did not meet the Canadian content, CanCon, standard, despite every track being co-written and performed by a Canadian artist. Adams had recorded the album mainly in England. Although some recording work was done in Canada, no track on the album qualified under the MAPL criteria. Adams also collaborated on the writing of the album with British record producer, Mr. Robert John Lange, with both being credited as co-writers of words and music of every cut on the album. As a result, no song on the album featured either music or lyrics written entirely by a Canadian. Therefore, none of the songs on the album qualified under the MAPL criteria. All of this meant that no track on the album qualified under what were the existing CanCon rules. Had Adams and Lange simply agreed to credit one party with 100% of the music and the other with 100% of the lyrics, all of their collaborations would have counted under the CanCon rules. However, the Canadians got over that and devised a solution. That is the last time what I have outlined happened. The system in question could be introduced in this country.

A nation is surely defined by its culture. It is difficult to fathom why we Irish have allowed one of our greatest cultural assets, our music and song, to be effectively banished from our prime-time radio airwaves in recent decades. It happened gradually and that is why we did not notice it, but happen it did. That is why the Irish music community has come here to support the introduction of legislation that would underpin an Irish music quota for commercial, State-owned or State-backed Irish radio. RTÉ is involved in this as well. It would bring Irish music of all genres back to our airwaves.

Let us look back to the 1960s and 1970s. We are acutely aware of the music and artists that were promulgated during those halcyon days, with a plethora of sponsored programmes including those of Val Joyce, Brendan Balfe, Harry Thuillier, The Waltons and the Top 10 Show. All of that was on our national radio. Why do we not bring back those sponsored programmes to RTÉ Radio 1? They were daily promoting and supporting the latest artists that produced Irish records of all genres, including Joe Dolan and the Drifters, Brendan Bowyer, the Dixies, The Freshmen, Big Tom, Foster and Allen, Margo, Seán Ó Sé, Fiddler's Green and many hundreds more. Their song and music was heard in every home throughout the State. Just one incident comes to mind. My late mother listened assiduously to these programmes throughout the day as she did her housework. She learned the words of one song. I remember it well. It was called "Gentle Mother". At her knee, we learnt the words of that song. That goes to show how radio can influence and disseminate music and song.

We appreciate the great value that mainstream popular music and culture has worldwide. We realise the great bonding effect that popular music and culture has had among nations throughout the world. We are strongly of the view that the legislative enactment of an Irish music quota will enhance rather than diminish our contribution to the vitality and purity of worldwide culture.

During the course of this campaign, I have been extremely lucky to make contact with hundreds of musical artists, composers and managers, many of whom were people to whom I would have listened or about whom I would have read. I include in that Steve and Joe Wall of The Stunning, an iconic rock band of some fame. A few minutes listening to them was instructive and educational. It demonstrates that our focus is on all genres and types of music.

There were various campaigns over the years to promote Irish musicians and their music but it all fell on deaf ears, apart from some great disc jockeys and shows that were committed to playing Irish music, mostly after 7 p.m. The situation has worsened. Steve Wall's words echo precisely what hundreds of other artists, many of them in the Gallery tonight, in all genres of music have relayed to me and confirmed as fact. People have told me of their experiences. I am reflecting what fellow musicians have told me, young and old, established or trying to get into the business, about how difficult it is to get out of the traps. Weasel words, half truths or downright lies should not be used to shield us from the reality.

One radio station told a member of an indie pop band that I know very well that his band would be excluded by my Bill but nothing could be further from the truth. His father rang me and was very upset but nothing could be further from the truth. That just goes to show what has been said about this legislation.

Steve Wall said that between The Stunning and The Walls, he has spent thousands of euro making records in this country. T. R. Dallas said that one would not see change from €15,000 by the time one has paid the studio, sound engineers, musicians, graphic designers, pressing plants and printers. Once a recording is made, artists usually hire the services of a public relations company to present the single to radio stations. It is at this point that artists need guts of steel. After all the money that is spent on recording and public relations, the PR company prepares and aggregates a weekly update showing the response from radio stations.

We must explain to those running radio stations that Irish musicians are spending their hard-earned money in this country and not just on all of the services listed above. They also incur considerable expenses when they go on tour. They must pay for van hire and fuel, hire a crew, pay their wages and provide food and accommodation. T.R. Dallas said that he would usually pay five or six people when he goes on tour. When the Michael English dance band goes on tour, 15 people are involved. That is 15 wage packets and 15 people with jobs. Air play is the key to putting bums on seats and enabling music venues to open on Wednesday or Thursday nights, employing additional staff. Air play creates jobs. Steve Wall explained this to one radio station executive who had never considered it before but the station still did not play his single.

Steve Wall also acknowledged that the late 1980s into the 1990s was a great time for Irish music, mainly thanks to 2FM which played copious amounts of Irish music. Indeed, 2FM was the only show in town and Irish artists were all over the airwaves. They were also all over television during that time. We must acknowledge the efforts of Niall Stokes and the compelling case he makes. However, his calls have fallen on deaf ears which is why we are here tonight. Some Irish artists are afraid to speak out for fear of burning bridges. These are the facts emanating from the mouths of Irish musicians who, by any standards, have been successful in their chosen genres. It should be acknowledged that many musicians are here tonight and many more have supported the campaign for the implementation of this legislation, including Phil Coulter, Johnny Sheahan, Mick Foster, Tony Allen, Tom Allen, Peter Mooney, Danny Mc Carthy, Johnny Duhan, Frank Kilbride, Bernard Newman, Ollie Kennedy and a host of others. They have stated that their careers are nearly behind them but they are here tonight so that young musicians will have a future. They want to see the development of the next U2, Phil Lynnott, Christy Moore, Paul Brady or the Dubliners. I see that Deputy Ciaran Cannon, another good musician, is also in the Gallery. Phil Coulter said that if he wrote "The Town I Loved So Well" or "Scorn Not His Simplicity", Paul Brady wrote "The Island" or Johnny Duhan wrote "The Voyage" today, they would not get out of the traps.

Deputies are going to vote against this legislation tonight and by doing so they will ensure that the next generation of Irish musicians will not get out of the traps. I do not want to hear their mealy mouthed weasel words, suggesting that the legislation is regressive. Why not let the Bill go forward to Committee Stage to be sorted out? They are afraid because a few radio stations contacted them. Let us be honest about it and tell the truth.

There is a particular onus on RTE, as our national broadcaster, to ensure that Irish music and artists are promoted, particularly as it is in receipt of millions of euro from the television licence fee. RTE must be included in the legislation. I will acknowledge that in the past 12 months, Ryan Tubridy has given a number of acts good exposure on "The Late Late Show". Of course, he is a quick learner. When the tribute to Big Tom was broadcast, the programme had an audience of 1 million. Likewise, 1 million people watched the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil on television. The fleadh was held in the beautiful town of Ennis and attracted over 300,000 people. Clearly, there is an audience for these acts and events when they are televised or broadcast. RTE will be included in this legislative amendment, notwithstanding what those who are against it would say. I have a copy of the Broadcasting Act 2009 in front of me and I know the section that is relevant. If my Bill needs an amendment to ensure that RTE is included, then I will amend it.

I am not claiming that the Bill is foolproof or perfect. I accept that agreeing a definition of Irish music presents a challenge but that challenge could be met in committee. This Bill should be referred to committee but cowardice prevails and bureaucrats are winning the day. That issue and others could be addressed by the collective wisdom of all our legislators. The people in the Gallery this evening are very disappointed. I am of the view that the Minister would like to support this Bill but he has been stymied. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. However, my disappointment pales into insignificance when compared to the level of disappointment among musicians and artists at the attitude that has been displayed by the Government and by Fianna Fáil. If Fianna Fáil Deputies look at the Gallery tonight, they will see a number of their own loyal supporters, top class musicians who are shocked. They cannot believe that Fianna Fáil will not support this Bill.

I acknowledge that some of the regional radio stations are working hard and playing a pivotal role in the promotion of Irish music. Indeed, I have no doubt that for every hour of music they play, at least 20 to 25 minute is devoted to Irish acts. As Tom Allen said to me, out of every ten records, they should play three or four that are Irish. I must pay credit to Tommy Marren, Paul Claffey and Gerry Lennon from Midwest Radio, Albert Fitzgerald, Will Faulkner, Joe Cooney and Paddy Duffy from Midlands Radio and Joe Finnegan, Frank Kilbride and Martin Donohoe of Shannonside Northern Sound. I am of the view that the implementation of a quota would present no difficulty for those radio stations. I spoke to some of the aforementioned presenters who wrote letters to various Deputies.

There are also excellent broadcasters in our national radio station, including Fiachna Ó Braonáin from the Hot House Flowers, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and John Creedon, but their shows are on too late at night. The music must be played between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. That is what is done in every other country but we are too cowardly. It is a shame. The prime time hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. is the right time to broadcast programmes that boost Irish artists across all of the genres.

Many independent radio stations contacted me about the fact that RTE is not included in the Bill. In my view, RTE is clearly caught by the legislation which only amends the principal Act of 2009 and section 114, subsection 2(a) is instructive in this regard. That said, I am prepared to amend the Bill so as to put the issue beyond doubt.

The disappointment among musicians is palpable. These people are going out and creating employment. At least 15 wage packets are generated by the likes of Nathan Carter, Michael English, Foster and Allen and others. It is a big industry. Stephen Travers, a former member of the Miami Showband, told me that there are 8,000 to 10,000 jobs involved here. Do Deputies have any concept of what is involved? Bands like the Miami Showband burst onto the scene because we had a radio station promoting them in the 1960s and the 1970s. There was "Spotlight" magazine and all sorts of avenues for promotion which I recall very well. We must give Irish musicians a chance again. I urge the Minister to allow the Bill to go forward to Committee Stage. We can deal with any issues that arise there. The Minister can bring forward amendments, get the advice of the Attorney General or of senior counsel if he likes. Deputy James Browne is an eminent barrister and he knows this can be done. I am surprised that he is here tonight to argue against it because he knows it is possible. He comes from a county with a great musical and cultural tradition and that is what this Bill is about.

These musicians will be in demand. When Deputies want to organise a charity event, the very first port of call are these Irish musicians and they respond. If a place has gone on fire or a building needs to be restored, they are there. When there are Christmas parties for the elderly in hospital, they are there. They are not looking for any money. They do it because they love it. They do it for the love of the music.

I appeal to the House to allow the Bill to proceed to Committee Stage. Let us work on it together. I am not omnipotent and do not have any divine right, to be straight. The Minister, Deputy Naughten, comes from a great area and Brendan Shine, who is next door to the Minister's own bailiwick, is behind this legislation. If the Minister looks at the back of SHIP magazine he will see who is supporting this Bill. There are 10,000 people affected by this.

The Minister should give them a chance.

Every independent radio station gets a licence and the aspiration is that it would play 30% of Irish music. How many of them play the required 30% of Irish music? How is that measured? The 30% could be played at 3 o'clock in the morning. We all know it is a joke. We should correct the anomalies and amend the legislation to make sure it is better legislation. I propose the Bill to the House.

I thank Deputy Penrose for publishing this legislation. I welcome the opportunity to speak to his Bill, which proposes to introduce a quota for Irish music on the radio by way of an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. I also express my support for the Irish music industry. We are here this evening due to the interest in the area and our wish to discuss any possible assistance we can offer.

There have been a number of attempts to create a definition to enable the introduction of an Irish music quota. Previous Ministers and my Department met with a number of groups and tried to formulate a definition. Deputy Penrose met with the then Minister, Alex White, in the past. The issue of the definition was raised by Deputy Penrose's party colleague but it could not be progressed at that stage. I have spoken privately with Deputy Penrose regarding this matter. I have told him that I am very sympathetic to the issue he raises but the core issue-----

Allow the Bill go into committee.

-----is that of a definition. Deputy Penrose's colleague did not accept the Bill at the time. Even within his own party-----

That is not true.

I did not see the legislation being moved. However, it has not been possible-----

On a point of order-----

There is no point of order.

It is a point of order. It is correcting the record. I will not let anyone tell lies.

Take a seat and calm down.

On a point of order, this legislation was never brought before the Dáil, and I do not want anyone promulgating lies about me.

I ask the Deputy to sit down. Minister, address your remarks through the Chair.

I would appreciate it if Deputy Penrose would withdraw that remark. I am not telling lies. The point I am making is-----

Allow the Minister to respond.

I said the Deputy discussed this with the then Minister, Alex White. He had a deputation-----

I did not have any deputation. Please withdraw that.

I withdraw that comment, and I apologise for it. There were meetings with the then Minister, Alex White, on this in the past and the issue consistently has been to try to come up with a satisfactory and workable definition.

The Deputy is proposing the introduction of a 40% quota for Irish music to be played by Irish radio stations. The definition in the Bill is extremely vague and I do not believe it would assist the Irish music industry if introduced; rather, because of its vagueness, I believe it is likely to exclude a range of types of music written by Irish musicians. It would also be unworkable from a practical regulatory point of view.

The wording refers to musical composition that relates to some distinguishing element of the culture of the island of Ireland. Who is to decide what those distinguishing elements are to be? For example, will it encompass electronica music such as techno, ambient or downtempo? Furthermore, in a multi-cultural society such as we have now, how should we treat music written or enjoyed by those Irish citizens of African, eastern European or South American heritage?

I fully recognise the efforts that Deputy Penrose has made in attempting to come up with a useful definition. For instance, he has tried to avoid the pitfall of setting a definition based on nationality or residence which would be in breach of EU law on the grounds that it would discriminate against other European artists. The introduction of a quota along these lines was attempted previously by Niall Stokes, as referenced by Deputy Penrose, and was rejected by the European Commission. The definition was then replaced by one that was so vague as to make it unworkable. That is the same situation that would arise if Deputy Penrose’s Bill was enacted.

The current system, where stations volunteer Irish music commitments in their programme policy statements, was introduced to avoid this problem. This system works well, and while I believe there is room for improvement, I do not believe Deputy Penrose’s proposal would lead to any improvement. RTE is the biggest supporter of Irish music and artists in Ireland. Irish artists and musicians receive significant support across radio, television, orchestra and online platforms. A number of shows on both TV and radio are dedicated to the air play of Irish music. In the case of commercial radio stations, they already have a 30% Irish music quota as part of their licence agreement with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI. Many of these stations play over and above that particular percentage. Editorial independence is essential to ensure diversity and the imposition of a quota representing a certain type of music is not workable. Independent radio stations are reliant on commercial revenue and their business plans are guided by audience levels. Stations broadcast what their audiences wish to hear and if they did not, audiences would switch to other stations resulting in decreased listenership and thus reducing revenues and potential job losses.

The quota in France is frequently raised in this debate. It should be noted that this quota requires air play of music in the French language. A similar quota for Ireland would require that the music played was in the Irish language. That would be too restrictive and contrary to the purpose of Deputy Penrose's Bill.

Who wrote this?

A quota system was also introduced in South Africa in July of this year. Difficulties have arisen with the implementation of this quota. The Johannesburg based station Metro FM, for example, has lost over 3 million listeners since the introduction of a quota as its play lists have changed significantly. This is a serious loss of revenue and not a situation I would like to see in Ireland when stations are already having to compete with Internet radio and online streaming.

It is my view that the best approach to be followed on this issue is one that takes account of all the relevant stakeholders, where we can have direct engagement with the radio sector with a view to establishing a mutually acceptable treatment of Irish music. That approach is likely to produce a far more successful and sustainable position on this issue, rather than seeking the imposition of an artificial quota.

At my request, the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment is currently carrying out a broad review of the funding of public service broadcasting in Ireland, including a public consultation and engagement with relevant stakeholders. One suggestion that has arisen from the committee’s discussions has been the creation of a forum on broadcasting, and I have confirmed to the committee my support for this proposal.

This is an important issue which requires careful consideration. It affects both the Irish music industry and the Irish radio industry. That is the reason I oppose the Bill and suggest that the issue be discussed in the proposed forum, which would be a more appropriate course of action rather than seeking a legislative solution that would have the opposite outcome to what the Deputy is seeking to achieve. I accept the principle of what Deputy Penrose is saying. I have said that to him privately. I have told him that the major challenge has been the definition. I agree with Deputy Penrose that we should use the collective wisdom of our legislators. That is why I suggest to him that he should allow the committee, through the proposed forum on broadcasting, to come forward with recommendations that deal practically with the issues he has raised.

I accept that we need to look at this and I am prepared to work with Deputy Penrose and the committee to see how we can progress this issue in a real and practical manner. The difficulty, as I have said to Deputy Penrose privately and publicly, is the issue of the definition. This issue was examined over many years by a number of Ministers. Deputy Penrose is aware of the difficulties in coming up with a definition. If someone can come up with one that is workable, I am prepared to consider it but let the collective wisdom of the legislators be used. It should be discussed via the forum on broadcasting to see if we should go down the legislative route or if there is another mechanism through the licensing of the broadcasters that we can use to achieve the same goal regarding it. For that reason, I cannot accept the Bill.

We now move to Deputies Lawless and Butler, who have 20 minutes.

I am sharing time with Deputy Butler; another colleague may join us.

I thank Deputy Penrose for introducing this legislation to the House. I acknowledge the presence in the Chamber of representatives of both sides of the debate, which is welcome. It is a pleasant change to have such interest in a Bill being debated in the House.

I regret to say that Fianna Fáil will not be supporting this Bill on this occasion and I will outline a number of concerns and reasons that is so. Of course, we are and always have been 100% supportive of local and indigenous production of music and culture, but we feel the quota system is unworkable. Quotas of any kind are an imperfect mechanism. Quotas are inappropriate, particularly in this space.

It is worth noting at the outset that quotas of 25% to 30%, depending on the station and the contracts awarded, are already in effect. The proposal to increase this to 40% seems a bridge too far, and I will outline a number of reasons.

I am not convinced that quotas have worked internationally. The Deputy made reference to international quotas. France is the most often cited example. South Africa also introduced quotas. Canada, maybe for similar reasons, experimented with a quota system as well. The motivation in those cases was more a language motivation than a cultural motivation, and that may be at the heart of this Bill. That may be where the dichotomy occurs, if there is a misunderstanding between the sides of the House on this issue. If this is a language Bill, let us call it a language Bill and let us take it as such and deal with it separately. At present, it appears to be a cultural Bill involving a cultural quota, and as the Minister stated, it is difficult to define how that might come about.

The experience internationally has not been exclusively positive. If we look at Canada, the city of Montreal was riven apart. Digressing a little, in 1976, Montreal was a fine city and it hosted the Olympic Games. A decade later, the city was in tatters. Most of its economy had migrated to other parts of the state. A lot of this was due to language laws and faction fighting within. Of course, its quota laws pertained to language barriers rather than quotas. In France and in Canada, I understand these are language quotas as opposed to a cultural music quota. In fact, in France, they reversed the legislation. The legislature in France reversed it, back down to 30% from what it had been. At one stage, there was a notable boycott when radio stations boycotted the quota that was in place and got away with doing so.

On the point about forced cultural consumption, there is an ongoing debate about the Irish language and how we teach it and educate, and why after 80 years of compulsory Irish, we do not have a fluent Irish speaking population. Perhaps it is because it is forced. Perhaps forced quotas are not the way forward for any aspect of education or cultural promotion. Forced culture is unwelcome and the recipient often regurgitates it. As has been proven, it is not the way to go about it.

In terms of the language, we have mentioned the EU difficulties. The Minister touched on that. I am also aware that my colleagues, the former MEPs, Deputy Gallagher and Mr. Liam Aylward, and Mr. Brian Crowley MEP, submitted a parliamentary question in the European Parliament which found that the quota would be difficult to satisfy European legislation. I appreciate the Deputy has made attempts to address that in this Bill but I am not quite sure it is there yet.

Another difficulty I and my partner see with the Bill is the difficulty in defining what the definition means. I referenced it again while the Deputy was speaking. I listened carefully to a number of the points the Deputy made but I am not quite sure what the "distinguishing element of the culture of the island of Ireland" means. We can all guess what it means but as an eminent barrister, the Deputy will know a court might not always agree on something as nebulous as that. If an Irish artist was to perform opera, would that satisfy the definition?

If a hip-hop band were to emerge, would that measure up?

We cannot say categorically whether that is true or not.

Of course, one can.

Of course, one can.

A court would have to identify.

Sorry, excuse me, we cannot.

That is Irish.

We are dancing on the top of a pin here.

Deputy Penrose alluded to the foundation of the State, "An Claidheamh Soluis", the Gaelic League and such cultural movements at the beginning of the century which led the Irish national cultural revolution. I wonder would the likes of Yeats or Shaw even qualify under this heading. I appreciate that is literature as opposed to music, but it is an English language literature.

That is a load of rubbish. That does not make any kind of sense.

Sorry, Deputy Burton, you know well there is no facility to comment on a speaker here or anything he or she says, and please desist from it.

I understand there are slots reserved later in the schedule for the speakers if they wish to come in.

It is not clear. The legislation does not appear to be crystal clear. It appears to be open to debate. The fact that we are even arguing it in this debate alone highlights that.

Looking again to the French experience, Daft Punk, an internationally successful eminent French outfit, could not get played on the French airwaves because of the quota legislation that was in place. It was not a French language outfit and, therefore, it could not qualify. That also highlights the difficulty.

How do we quantify this? I do not know how we quantify it. I can imagine how we quantify it but I am not sure how a court would interpret that. In legislation, we have to be a little clearer in how we do that. Meaning no disrespect, I appreciate the intent, but as it is currently formulated I cannot see how that would work.

We have to consider it is unduly restrictive of the Irish independent radio sector. We are unique in this country in that, unlike, say, France and other European states, we are English language speaking. It is our vernacular, although not our first language, and that means we are automatically catapulted onto the same stage as the United States, the United Kingdom and many other English-speaking content producers. That makes it infinitesimally more difficult for our content producers to produce on the English-language media than anywhere else. That is already a challenge, and a challenge that RTE, as a public service broadcaster, has to grapple with, but also that independent radio stations have to grapple with.

We are in a digital age. I do not see how the legislation, as I understand it, could apply to the likes of Spotify, Internet radio, digital radio, digital streaming, consumption via the web, consumption via television and consumption via multiple media. It appears to focus on one particular sector of output and, without commenting on the merits or otherwise of that, it seems unfair and disproportionate to concentrate on one sector at the expense of others.

Of course, it is a marketplace. There is competition and if we are to restrict and place artificial inhibitions on one sector in a free market and allow the others run amok, that is not a recipe for success. In that scenario, I would worry for the future of those independent radio stations which provide employment and an important public service remit in their news coverage and other aspects.

The commercial viability has to be questioned as well in terms of the radio stations themselves. For the most part, the ones we are talking about here are local. They know their audience. I was in my own local radio station, KFM, this morning and reviewed the schedule. There are already multiple Irish language and Irish music programmes on the schedule - "Irish Music Scene", "Ceol agus Caint", "K Country" - but those broadcasters know their market audience and they meet that demand. In a cultural expression, as much as anything else, the listeners hear what they want to hear. If the station feels that the listeners are demanding more of a certain type of content, they will provide that. The market finds its own level and the music market finds its own level in that regard. If there was a clamour for increased music of a certain type, that probably would be reflected already in the schedules because these stations need market share to succeed. My own local station, KFM, is on 49% radio share at present. As it is, it is doing fairly okay and it meets the 30% compliance requirement that is already in place from the BAI. I am not sure why we need to interfere and go beyond that.

Something else we need to consider is an open point the Deputy and the Minister have queried. My understand is RTE is not included in this legislation. The Deputy suggested that if that is so, an amendment may correct that. Certainly, as it is currently constituted, I do not see that RTE is included. I have been informed that RTE is not covered in this legislation. That would seem the elephant in the room. If the largest, State broadcaster, with the resources of the licence fee-----

I will cite the section for the Deputy.

-----behind it, is somehow exempt from this legislation, whether intentionally or accidentally, that would seem a significant imbalance towards the smaller independent radio stations that are trying to survive and meet the demands of their listenership and their market.

The Deputy alluded to this when he was introducing the Bill. I refer to Fiddler's Green and Irish language and Irish music productions of note that were on RTE radio and perhaps RTE television. If RTE is exempt, that is a moot point.

I do not think it applies.

The way forward, rather than enforcing quotas on a certain sector of the output, is to promote stations such as TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta. There is no reason RTE could not introduce a new digital radio channel, if it wished to do so, with 100% music with an Irish, what is the expression, "cultural identity". I do not know whether that has been explored.

Ultimately, this comes back to choice and freedom, the choice that listeners make and the choice that a station makes to present. Enforcing quantity as a measure rather than quality will always be a difficult one to balance.

The other point that has been made to me is the question of how this Bill provides a guarantee. The intention, which is extremely admirable and with which no one could quibble, is to promote new music sources, new media and indigenous artists coming through. This is noble and something we all would wish to support. There is no guarantee that under the legislation, as constituted, one could not put a U2, The Dubliners or Planxty song on repeat for 40% of the airtime and let it run. That would satisfy it. We might hear more of the same artists rather than hearing new artists coming through. If the noble intention I referred to is the intention, let us address that in other ways as there are other ways we can do it.

This has been raised already. My understanding, as per the Minister, was that this was introduced, although not into the House. I accept Deputy Penrose's clarification on that.

There were attempts to introduce this in the previous Dáil when the Labour Party was in Government, but it did not get the Minister's approval at the time for some of the reasons we are now identifying as concerns. That is a precedent we look to when something was attempted in the past. The representative body, IASCA, the Irish Association of Songwriters, Composers & Authors, appears to be working with the local radio stations at present and with the industry. I and many Deputies have received multiple representations from the independent radio stations and their representative bodies as well as from industry agencies, groups and lobby groups. The Deputy suggests that they do not mean what they say, but I do not understand that. I can only accept what is in writing before me. If I receive an e-mail or a letter, I accept it in good faith and at face value. I received multiple letters, e-mails and representations along those lines. Again, I must accept them prima facie. They say they are against the legislation for many reasons, including that they consider it unworkable, impractical and because such legislation has not succeeded elsewhere. If it is a language matter, we should look at it in a separate context.

I am a member of the communications committee and I have not seen this on the committee's agenda since I was elected to the House. Perhaps that is the appropriate forum for the Bill. The artists, agencies and different representative groups could be brought before the committee, and I am sure the Minister would join us for that session, and the debate could proceed. Perhaps the Bill could be reintroduced with RTE included and the vagueness around the cultural definition addressed. Let us take some time to refine it by bringing it to the committee. A discussion could be held there before introducing it again in the House. At that point, it might go forward.

My party supports the general intent of the Bill, but as currently drafted I cannot see how it could work in practice. The immediate negative impact on the independent radio sector appears to be too great a price to pay.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill, and I do not doubt Deputy Penrose's passion on this subject. Even though I, personally and as a member of Fianna Fáil, do not favour 40% quotas, it does not mean I do not support Irish music, whether it is listening to the High Kings in the car when driving to Dublin, listening to Christy Moore on the way back down to Waterford or spending the last 15 years of my life going to Irish feiseanna with my daughter and listening to Irish music all day long at such events. I do not accept that just because I do not support the 40% quota it means I do not support and love Irish music and culture.

The Bill provides that sound broadcasting contracts are awarded to applicants on the condition that 40% of the transmission time for music be used for musical compositions that relate to "some distinguishing element of the culture of the island of Ireland". Fianna Fáil very much supports a viable broadcasting sector that reflects the interests of the people and offers quality content for its audiences, but it opposes this Bill on the grounds that it is impractical and will not serve Irish cultural producers or consumers well. While Fianna Fáil supports Irish cultural production, a quota is not the appropriate means to do so. Instead, we must open dialogue and seek engagement with a broad array of interest groups to find a better solution that will not dampen Irish broadcasting.

Yesterday and today, I spoke to the managing director of Waterford Local Radio, WLR FM, a radio station in Waterford that has a huge listenership. He explained that Waterford Local Radio reaches 33% adherence to the contractual obligation as monitored-----

Then it has no problem.

-----on a regular basis by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and that breaches of licence for a lack of Irish music broadcasting are a rare occurrence. In addition to the 33% daily output, WLR FM also broadcasts three separate Irish music programmes that air on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. An Irish music feature promoting new Irish music is broadcast daily from Monday to Thursday on WLR FM. These radio stations are not opposed to Irish music. They have a strong public service remit and included in that is the promotion of Irish music of all genres. It is one that independent radio stations are keen to fulfil.

I also spoke to Gabrielle Cummins who is the managing director of Beat FM, which appeals to an audience of people between 15 and 35 years of age. The station believes that this is a critical time for recruiting and retaining young listeners. Ms Cummins said that the challenge is difficult and she believes that enforced quotas as high as the 40% proposed by the Labour Party would drive young ears even more quickly to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. I have a 19 year old and 23 year old at home and I see how often they have headphones on to listen to Spotify and Apple Music. Irish artists have a much better chance of decent exposure on Irish radio than on Spotify or Apple Music playlists because they get decent rotations on air. If the legislation is passed, the end result could create a worse situation for Irish music artists if fewer young people are listening to radio.

I also note that the proposed legislation only appears to cover independent radio and will not impact on RTE. That is undemocratic. The public service broadcaster should be to the fore in championing new Irish music, yet no quotas exist for its stations. The Bill is an aggressive measure both for our cultural production and the broadcasting sector which play a very important role in Ireland. Undoubtedly, the arrival of Internet-based music streaming services and radio presents a significant challenge. I do not doubt the Deputy's passion in introducing this Bill but I believe it is a step too far. The radio stations are adhering to their quotas of between 20% and 30%, depending on where one lives.

Yes, I said that.

They certainly are adhering to them in Waterford.

I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly on the Bill. I do not doubt the sincerity of my constituency colleague who introduced it. The Visitors Gallery is full of fine artists and musicians who represent this country internationally with great pride. They have done great work for Irish music over many years. On a Sunday, The Well in Moate, the Annebrook House Hotel and the Greville Arms Hotel in Mullingar and many other entertainment venues are packed out with people-----

Do not forget the Park.

We cannot forget the Park House Hotel with Frank Kilbride. Many local venues in my area are packed to the rafters when promoting Irish music, country music and the indigenous music industry. This is an industry and it needs support.

I do not claim to know the context of this Bill, to be honest. However, the information we are being given is that it is not the best way forward. It is not only Fianna Fáil saying it. This Bill is not something Deputy Penrose thought of in the past week or eight months. He was promoting it even when his party was in Government and had the opportunity, with an overall majority, to pass it. It did not happen in that five-year period and it appears it will not happen this evening. What we must do now is examine how we can support this industry into the future. The new chair of the RTE authority should be invited to appear before the Oireachtas joint committee to answer why RTE is not playing Irish artists on its various shows. Foster and Allen have their own show on Sky. I listen to it regularly. They get far more play time on BBC or Sky than on our national broadcaster. That is simply not fair or good enough. We must ensure we find some method to support these artists into the future.

I have been a Member of the House for many years but I find myself in a very difficult situation tonight. I indicated to the musicians who were invited to the audio-visual room by Deputy Penrose that I supported the principle of this legislation. I cannot understand why we cannot support the principle. If there are difficulties with quotas and whether the quota should be 40% or 25%, that can be teased out at a later stage. The principle of this Bill is that we are espousing our own. We should promote our music and culture. I received no approach from local radio but I have been told that pressure is being applied and we are tying its hands. If all of those radio stations were playing 30% Irish music content, there would be no need for this Bill.

I do not want to be a hypocrite about this. Deputy Penrose and others will know that I have been a loyal party member and if the greater membership of the party takes a decision, I must abide by it, but this one certainly goes against the grain for me.

The next speaker is Deputy Stanley and the Sinn Féin Party has ten minutes.

We have ten minutes in total.

If Deputy Tóibín does not show up, I know Deputy Eugene Murphy, even though he is a political opponent, is seeking to have some time. He says he has his own particular band.

It is Christmas.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. I have read and considered it and we have had some discussion around it. There is no doubt that there are problems faced by those involved in the music industry in Ireland in accessing the airwaves. Ireland is recognised worldwide for its rich cultural heritage and our extremely talented musicians and composers are central to this. Unfortunately, those involved in the Irish music industry are struggling to make ends meet due to the lack of radio airplay on some stations. It is extremely difficult for Irish music to compete with the multinational culture and music companies. We are sandwiched between the music that comes out of Britain and the United States, some of which is very good, and dominated by that music and the global media and all that goes with that.

The reality is that the broad spectrum of Irish music in Ireland is given very little consideration on radio and, in some cases, gets only 10% of airplay. Ireland is bursting with talent, and in this economic climate, we surely need to be tapping into this great creativity, encouraging and nurturing our musicians, songwriters and performers. Ireland’s music industry supports 11,500 jobs nationwide and is worth close to €500 million annually to the economy, which is an important factor. We need to provide real investment into that creative industry. A proper percentage of airplay is crucial for Irish music to develop and maintain a strong industry and further growth in that sector.

Many countries in the European Union and outside it have been able to introduce national music quotas of up to 40%, but there are problems with that. We have seen recommendations from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland on a minimum quota for Irish culture. Sinn Féin supports Irish culture and art being promoted in Ireland and across the world. We want to see more artists being able to make a living for themselves in this country. My party colleague, Liadh Ní Riada MEP, comes from a family with a very rich tradition and involvement in the music industry. Her late father was Seán Ó Riada. She corresponded with the previous Minister with responsibility for communications, Alex White, asking that Irish music and culture be given greater support by Government. Our party believes that the promotion of the Irish language in broadcasting is essential to the language as a whole. In the North we have been supporting an Irish language broadcast fund that supports the production of excellent television, radio and online broadcasts. In this State, TG4 has achieved tremendous success in producing Irish language content, drama and documentaries with very limited funding, and that has been important in it reaching young people in particular.

However, while Sinn Féin supports advancing this Bill to Committee Stage, it requires further scrutiny. We see some pitfalls in it. I would not be as dismissive as some previous speakers of it. The Bill needs to be developed. For example, what constitutes “musical compositions that relate to some distinguishing element of the culture ... of the island of Ireland”? That is a broad definition and further work needs to be done on that.

Our party wants to see all different forms and diversity of the music of Ireland being supported. There are many examples of international musicians who have based themselves or have come to live in Ireland and who have made successful careers for themselves by performing locally and signing with Irish record labels, and in doing so they have undoubtedly contributed to the music culture of the island. Would these artists be supported or discriminated against under this Bill? There needs to be tied up. There are also examples of international acts which are based abroad whose Irish heritage is a prominent element of their music. Would those artists benefit from this legislation or would it work the other way? We do not want an outcome that is too purist or exclusive in that we have to leave people with a choice but we also want to give Irish music maximum support. We believe this Bill should be supported to progress to the next Stage but we want assurances that it will be based on fairness and diversity. The definitions and quotas need to be further examined and developed.

The Deputy is sharing the remaining four minutes in this time slot with Deputy Eugene Murphy.

I thank Deputy Stanley for giving me a few minutes of his time. My side of the House has adequately put the case during the debate. I was in my office meeting a deputation from my part of the country which had an issue, but I was following on the monitor Deputy Penrose's passionate contribution and, boy, does he put every effort into it.

As Deputy Penrose and the Minister, Deputy Naughten, know, I worked in this business for 20 years and promoted Irish music. I want to remind people in the Gallery because some of them might not realise this that I did more than anybody in this House to promote Irish music and song. Many of those in the Gallery know I played their records and they did not have to ring me to ask me to do so. I played their records because I have a belief in this business. I know more than most that this business is under pressure. We may not agree with this Bill but this side of the House has done more for Irish music than those on any other side of this House. We brought in local radio and local radio throughout this country has given a new platform to Irish country music, traditional music and, indeed, to new Irish rock bands. Stations like Shannonside and Northern Sound, for which I used to work, cater for all that type of music, and up to almost 40% of their coverage deals with different strands of Irish music. Stations like Midwest Radio, LMFM and Midlands Radio 3 have all done Trojan work for this business.

With due respect to Deputy Penrose, the problem with this Bill is that it will not deal with the national issue, and that is where the problem lies with national stations. I can show the Deputy a number of letters I have on my desk from the bosses of radio stations saying that this Bill is not workable and that they do not want it. I do not believe that going down the road of quotas works in any walk of life. It has failed in other areas and it will fail in this area. I know the Deputy is passionate about this and that he wants to do the right thing but I must remind him that a Bill was brought forward by the Labour Party when his party was in government in 2014 and the Deputy's then Labour Party Minister, Alex White, would not support it. Am I correct in that?

No. It was never brought forward.

That was very little done. Willie, you were here for 22 years.

The Deputy should address his remarks through the Chair.

Deputy Penrose was here for 22 years and I did not hear him say much about local radio and I do not know how supportive the Labour Party was of Fianna Fáil when it brought in local radio. I will not take a lecture from anybody or have anybody giving out about that.

That is unfair.

I am disgusted with some of the comments I have heard in recent weeks about the lack of support by Fianna Fáil for the Irish music business. The Irish music business would not be alive today only for this side of the House and that is the reality. Let people be honourable about that. I will not take a lecture from anybody in terms of abusing us about what we have not done.

The Deputy can thank Paschal Mooney and Labhrás Ó Murchú.

The Deputy will have his opportunity to contribute.

We have done an awful lot and we will continue to support these people. I know there is a need to ensure we get more Irish programmes and Irish music played on national radio. I am not going to support this Bill and our side of the House is not going to support it, but I will work with the industry in a better way to make things better for the Irish music industry.

I call Deputy Fitzmaurice who has two minutes.

I have more. I have the Anti-Austerity Alliance time as well. I have seven or eight minutes.

If the Deputy has that arrangement, I must accept the Deputy's word.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this Bill which I welcome. We were treated to a feast of music from incredible artists, young and old, in the audio-visual room a month or six weeks ago. The O'Neill sisters from Kerry, if my memory serves me right, and Phil Coulter were there, which shows the talent from one age to next that we have in this country and that has been nurtured along. That is a great asset.

No matter where we are, it might be at a wedding and we might have too many pints on us, the final thing the Irish will do at night is to get together and sing the songs of which we are proud. Tonight, I heard that this one and the other one did all the work to ensure that the Irish music business has survived. Mothers and fathers around Ireland who brought their youngsters to learn guitar, the fiddle or whatever, are the ones who kept music alive in this country, as did those who went to the different dance halls to hear bands perform live long before those bands ever played hotels. I recall that 3,000 people would attend The Sound of Music in Glenamaddy, County Galway and many also went to The Beaten Path in Claremorris, County Mayo.

MidWest Radio, Shannonside Northern Sound, Galway Bay FM and Highland Radio are successful radio stations because they have played this music and brought forward these kinds of musicians. We have to face up to it that we have a problem with the large stations because it might not be cool to play some Irish music. It might not be cool in certain parts of the country or in a big city to play it.

This music also generates much money throughout the country. For example, a band playing at an event will involve, say, people on the door and inside the bar working. Thousands of people are employed around the country and the talent these young people have is incredible. It is like a young footballer. A young lad or girl who wants to play football will be brought for training on a Saturday morning or afternoon to learn how to kick. As time goes on, he or she gets better and plays for the local club. If he or she is good, he or she will get the opportunity to play for his or her county. There are parts of this country where youngsters have learned various instruments or have amazing voices or have written great songs, but, unfortunately, after spending €10,000 on recording their music in a studio, they are not given the opportunity they deserve to have it played on the airwaves.

We should be proud of these people. They have gone to foreign lands, as was the case with Foster and Allen many years ago. I remember them appearing on "Top of the Pops" and representing Ireland. As legislators, this is what we should ensure. Do we want all the money going out to Robbie Williams or whoever is on the radio because the music is cooler? Do we want to keep that money in our own country in order to help our own youngsters, to create more jobs and, above all, to preserve our Irishness? Are we ashamed of driving forward with our Irishness?

Deputy Willie Penrose introduced a Bill when I was not long in the Dáil to help people in mortgage trouble to go bankrupt. I commended him on that at the time. I also commend him on the Bill before the House. No one is saying that it is perfect. Earlier, a Deputy claimed that some radio stations play 30% of Irish music. We can agree on an amendment to show the youngsters coming up in rock, pop, traditional or country music, what we mean. When I was a youngster, we danced to Joe Dolan. Then, it was not cool to do that and we listened to Shakin' Stevens and all the others. Now the wheel has turned and everyone is listening to Joe Dolan again. When there is a charity event for a young child or a community, who is the first to do a voluntary gig? It is not the artist in England but an artist in Ireland who will perform at such a gig to raise funds.

This is what we should appreciate. This is our Irishness and what we should be proud of. We should not be ashamed to stand up for musicians both here and abroad. If one is playing Irish music, I do not care if one is from America, so long as it is Irish music one is playing and one has Irish roots. We need to give these youngsters a chance. They have spent a lot of money and have never got the opportunity. One would stand in the snow to listen to the Doyle sisters who sang in the AV room recently. Unfortunately, they are not getting the opportunity to be heard everywhere they deserve to be heard. If one does not get the opportunities, then it is a harder road. They may get a break, they may not. Hopefully, they will. We are not talking about the local radio stations. In fairness, every local radio station in the west and other parts of the country is playing the percentage of Irish music which Deputy Willie Penrose is seeking in this Bill. It is the big guns - in circumstances where it might not be fashionable to do it - that are not doing so. They should be whipped into line the same as the rest.

The Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten, requested to give an explanation to the House. I will allow this under Standing Order 46.

I want to correct the record. Deputy Willie Penrose, along with Declan Nerney and T.R. Dallas, met the then Minister, Pat Rabbitte, and not another of my predecessors, Alex White. The latter met a deputation of musicians led by Danny McCarthy, Phil Coulter, Pat Egan and Johnny Duhan.

The Deputy will have an opportunity later. He is not one to miss an opportunity either. I call Deputy Thomas Pringle. The Deputy is sharing time with Deputy Thomas Broughan.

I support this Bill, which seeks to introduce a quota for Irish music to be played on the Irish airwaves. It is disappointing, however, that it will not be supported by the Government. The Bill seeks to introduce a quota by making it a condition for the awarding of all sound and broadcasting contracts to include at least 45% of the time allocated to music content in programmes for music that relates to "some distinguished element of the culture of the island of Ireland".

Radio maintains a consistent presence in our society. Up to 86% of adults, almost 3 million people, listen to radio on the average weekday in Ireland. While TV and print media ratings are falling ahead of increased online broadcasting trends, maintaining a music quota for radio will have the greatest impact in exposing the listening population to music content that relates to a cultural aspect of Ireland. In saying that, I do not believe we need to restrict quotas only to music which has a cultural element. It could be read to assume that only music deemed culturally relevant to the island of Ireland will be played. What about Irish singers who might write and produce original pop songs here in Ireland or an African national living here who has written, produced and performed music in Ireland but who cannot get air time? Upholding a quota for culturally specific Irish music may not do anything to develop and grow the music industry in itself.

Alongside any quota system being introduced, a strategy should also be introduced to develop a home-grown music industry. This year, the Taoiseach launched Creative Ireland as the Government's legacy programme for Ireland 2016, a five-year whole-of-Government initiative from 2017 to 2022, which aims to improve access to cultural and creative activity in every county. While this is welcome, little is contained in the programme to enhance prospects for the music industry, which means we are still without a fully functioning music strategy. According to the Irish Music Rights Organisation which deals with licensing rights for Irish musicians, Ireland's music industry supports 11,500 jobs nationwide and is worth close to €500 million annually to the economy. Clearly, there is potential to develop this further. Like many other industries, the music sector has been impacted in recent years both as a result of austerity cuts and on foot of technological advances as people increasingly download music for free. More than that, it is also the fact that this Government lacks a clear and coherent strategy to support the sector.

During the economic recovery process as we seek to create more employment, increase tourism and develop sustainable sectors, now is the time to develop a real plan for Irish music, involving all stakeholders including the Government, industry representative bodies, musicians and songwriters themselves, among others. This is crucial if we are to optimise the economic and social return of the music sector. This should coincide with any quota system that could be introduced.

I want to dispute the age-old notion that we cannot possibly introduce a quota system as it may contravene EU competition law. Niall Stokes, former chair of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, previously sought a music quota for Ireland in the 1990s, which the EU sanctioned. In 1994, France secured a 40% quota for songs played in French.

While this law primarily dealt with preserving the spoken language of French as it was felt English was homogenising the music industry, we need to be clear about our own intentions. Is it about the preservation of language, our cultural heritage or the preservation of our music industry in general? Both are intrinsically linked because music recorded and written in Ireland is also part of our cultural heritage and should be preserved and given the airtime it deserves.

I am delighted to warmly congratulate Deputy Willie Penrose on bringing forward this important Bill. The Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2016 will insert section 65A into the Broadcasting Act 2009 and provide for a quota of at least 40% to be allocated to Irish music or musical compositions that relate to some distinguishing element of the culture of our country.

When one looks at Irish music down through the decades, one sees a phenomenal pantheon of achievement by our music artists. We could spend the rest of tonight up to midnight reading out the names of great men and women who have contributed to the artistic life and culture of our country. Some of them are U2, the Script, Phil Coulter, Paul Brady, Van Morrison, Joe Dolan, Dickie Rock, Sinéad O'Connor, Hozier, Walking on Cars, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan, Thin Lizzy, Enya, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, the Pogues, the great Christy Moore, Aslan, Nathan Carter, George Murphy, Paddy Casey and the great Damien Dempsey from my constituency. They represent a tiny fragment of the men and women who have done so much for our artistic life. To protect and develop it, particularly as a result of the new challenges we face in the digital age, it is critical that our 34 stations give that amount of airtime to Irish music.

I meant to mention a great man from the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's party, the former Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, and the work of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann which down through the decades has done a phenomenal amount to teach instruments to our children. I am thinking also of the great O'Dwyer family of the Beara Peninsula, some of my own relations and the great tradition they and so many thousands of Irish families represent.

When one thinks of our great musical heritage, one must consider that other large English-speaking countries relentlessly push their own music. Our smaller EU partners and many other states in Latin America, Africa and Asia deliberately insist on good play time on the radio and television networks for their musicians. South Africa insists on 90% and I believe we should move in the same direction. If one thinks about great national musical traditions around the world, for example, the great musicians of Mali, Cuba or Jamaica, it is incontrovertible that major airplay on local stations has played a huge role in building up these traditions and encouraging and supporting these artists.

There is also huge issue with the power of IT companies like Apple, Google, YouTube and Spotify in the downloading and streaming of music. The ultimate benefits which accrue for composers and musicians is something this House will have to look at in the years to come and the fact that musicians often get such small returns for brilliant composition and playing. Down the years there have also been huge issues with the protection of copyright and royalties for Irish composers, especially in traditional music. I agree with the approach Deputy Penrose and the Labour Party have taken in this regard and by bringing such a group of our great musicians into Dáil Éireann tonight to publicise the Bill. It is a small but necessary step to cherish our musical heritage and to foster a love of Irish music for generations to come.

Deputy Pringle mentioned the new creative policy the Government has launched. It will need resources. In my constituency, and possibly in the Minister's, huge efforts are being made by great community activists like Finola Young to ensure every child in every school will have a musical instrument and that they will all be musically literate by the time they get to adulthood. We should have a total emphasis on our music and pushing it first and last in all genres in which our musicians are so brilliant.

Is mór an trua é go bhfuil daoine ar nós na n-iar-Sheanadóirí, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Paschal Mooney agus Donie Cassidy, imithe as Pháirtí Parlaiminte Fhianna Fáil. It would be a different story if they were here. It is a pity the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, because of the Whip system, is not allowed to support his good friends and the culture which he and I love and pay for. We have a new censor here in Dáil Éireann tonight. Deputy Lawless is the new censor for music in Ireland and what we can do.

I am disappointed, to say the least, that the party of which my father was a founding member and of which I was a member of all my life cannot support something as noble as this. I salute Deputy Penrose and his colleagues on bringing this forward. I would not ask why they did not do it in the past five years. They did not do it and that is fine. They are doing it now and it is needed. We should be proud of our Irish culture and our heritage. We should play it and support it. We might not get it from the national broadcasting services but we get it from our local radio stations. I salute Tipp FM radio and Tipperary Mid West Radio and all the good people there and the work they do, including the Tony Brooke show and many others.

I commend Paschal Mooney - God be with him - and his country music shows that we all listen to. He is still alive thank God. Fianna Fáil might have a different parliamentary party. Was this discussed at the parliamentary party? If it was, I do not know what Fianna Fáil is thinking about. Where is the culture, heritage, dúchas, faith and passion? Tá sé imithe. It is like, "Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?" It looks like it is, "Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan Fianna Fáil?" now. We will have different things again tomorrow. It is like Kieran Hanrahan and "Céilí House" - around the house and mind the dresser. Fianna Fáil members go around all the houses, yet they mind no one. They mind themselves as far as I can see.

I support this Bill. I welcome all the good people to the Public Gallery. I love Irish heritage - the music, song and dance. I am an all-Ireland champion set dancer. I cannot dance tonight here because there is no one to play the tune. B'fhéidir go mbeidh rince againn tar éis an oíche seo in áit eile.

We were told what happens in the US and the UK. I say to hell with the US and the UK. There is too much influence from those places coming in here. We need our culture, identity and heritage. I salute groups such as Clannad, Bachelors in Trouble, the Morrisseys and the former Senator Donie Cassidy. They composed a song, "Arise and Follow Charlie". If he was here I do not know what he would do with the Fianna Fáil Deputies. He would throw them all out in the yard somewhere. That is what happened in those times but now we are here and we are left with this. It is good legislation. It may not be perfect but it can be amended.

I was delighted to meet Deputy Penrose at the Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis with his young kids ag rince set agus ag rince fóirne. Bhí mo chlann ann freisin. I commend the work of former Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú who was ardstiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann agus a bhean chéile, Una, and the sterling work they have done for decades in the cultural centre in Tipperary, Brú Ború and elsewhere. They promoted our culture and heritage nakedly and unashamedly and supported young students who came out of college after studying art when nobody else would do it and when it was not popular to do so.

I danced to Big Tom at the carnival in Scotstown and I enjoyed it. I am not ashamed of it. They might say I am a Neanderthal or a caveman. That is not so long ago. Our culture is what we have to hold dearly and celebrate. I love listening to the Bachelors in Trouble. I wish them well and like their satire. It is very important. I like Deputy Penrose's good friend, Johnny Mac from Tipperary. They get together in the cornfields and make videos down in Maryville house in the plush, green Golden Vale of Tipperary.

If we do not support our own, we support nothing. I support Deputy Penrose. I do not know the Government's opinion on the Bill. I have not heard yet from the Minister. He is interested and has young kids himself. I will mention the Clancy Brothers, Stephen Donnelly in Clonmel and Paddy O'Brien. Rinne na fir sin an-obair thar na blianta ar fud an domhain. They danced all over the world. They brought Ireland and its culture to the people of the world. Afterwards there was U2 and all the other bands that are doing so well. We had all the rumpus last year about bringing your man into Croke Park and asking if he would come.

Anywhere in any town or village, we will get young people to dance, we will get a man to play a tune on the fiddle, ar an bhfeadóg nó rud éigin mar sin agus beidh an-chraic againn. That is our culture. That is what purists abroad want to see. They want us to have it here played on our radio. They do not want to listen to other stuff. When they come to Ireland and go into a hotel, pub or go into get their hair cut, they want the Irish music and culture played and listened to. They do not just want stuff coming from abroad. That is good as well and we cannot close our mind to it but we have to get back to our roots. I do not know where the Deputies' roots are gone but, by God, they are short green shoots. They need to get some 10-10-20 or some kind of fertiliser to see if they can stimulate them again. They have lost their way in a lot of cases.

I heard Deputy Murphy - I know the work he does on his radio station - lecturing people across the way. None of us can be proud. We all make mistakes but we all have an onus to cherish our culture, heritage, faith and dúchas and to support it and young groups like Caladh Nua from Ballymacarbry who won national awards last year.

They are a great group of young people from Contae Thiobraid Árann, Cluain Meala agus Baile Mhac Cairbre i gContae Phort Láirge. The talent oozes from them. They love it. They do not cost a bob to anyone but their parents. We are not charging anybody for this. It is not like Uisce Éireann, which Deputy Lawless mentioned. We have enough of talking about Irish Water. Let us talk about what is good for us, what we enjoy and what we love. Let us celebrate our culture and heritage. We should be allowed to do so. A quota of 40% is not too much. Let us compel our radio stations to play more and to be proud of it, not all the foreign influences we have and the diatribe that comes on some of the stations some of the time.

The group is called Caladh Nua. It is a lovely new group. People should go out and get their CD and listen to it. Those who do buy it will be dancing around the Christmas table with the turkey in their hands and they might spill the cranberry sauce if they are not careful. The music is stimulating and invigorating. It is what we are. It is what we come from. It is where we came from, what we are proud of and what we want to have. I do not want any party in this House seeking to do down Deputy Willie Penrose or anybody else. Goodness knows, we are downtrodden enough since the recession and everything the troika says we cannot do. This is something we can do, we are able to do and we want to do. Let us do it. Let us celebrate what we are and our culture. We should bring back the likes of former Senators Labhrás Ó Murchú and Donie Cassidy to give people, particularly those who oppose the Bill, pep talks on what can be done.

This is good legislation. Deputy Penrose is not infallible. He has a legal background and I have admired many of the Bills he has brought forward. I admired him when he stood up for his local barracks and his people and gave up his super junior Cabinet post. He is not a man for himself but a man of the people and a man of culture. I will not say that he is a man of history, given that he is still with us, but he will leave behind a proud legacy. Let us all consider the Bill and embrace it. The Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten is part of the rural group of Independents and I hope he will support it.

The House will be sitting tomorrow. As I said during the debate on post offices, we should use our culture, music, dance, literature, history and arts, or we will lose them. It is a case of "Use it or lose it". We have lost a great deal. Thanks are due to all the good people in the Public Gallery, their families and supporters for all the employment they give driving vans to bring the people who provide background music to the hotels and marquees. Use it or lose it. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leis an mBille.

I very much welcome the debate and commend Deputy Willie Penrose on raising the issue and allowing us to consider it. The music we listen to is important. When I leave the Chamber, the first thing I will do on my way home is put on my earphones and listen to John Creedon's radio show. I love it. It is the highlight of my day. I leave it to him as to whether he plays ska for the first half-hour or hour or whether he plays the Sultans of Ping non-stop. I trust him, and I love this quality in my day. It is important to me. If he is not on, or some similar show is not airing, I spend a lot of time jumping between stations trying to find something I like.

We are all influenced, particularly by the experiences of our younger years. I am a child of the 1970s, when we seemed to get it right. The musician Martin Hayes said something happened in Irish traditional music in the early 1970s that was truly spectacular. I could name endless bands such as the Bothy Band, Skara Brae and Planxty that were incredibly innovative, creative and popular, not just here but all over the world. We were the leaders and originators in world music on foot of the spark and creativity of that time. Although I am less tuned into it, it was probably the same in terms of show bands and country music. I am old enough to remember going around the country and seeing big crowds outside show band halls. It was a hugely popular and successful musical culture.

I was at home in punk. I am a child of punk and, at that time, for whatever combination of reasons, Ireland was an amazingly vibrant centre. We were right up to speed with punk just as much as London or Manchester, and we were proud. It did not seem like it was Irish. We were proud because they were local people but also because it was beyond being Irish. It was just contemporary and global. People all over the world were listening to Stiff Little Fingers or whichever of the plethora of bands that took off at that time. Perhaps it was because we were cut off. People did not travel to Ireland, given that they did not see it as safe. We did not have a huge amount of choice or radio stations. Perhaps, because we had so many young people, the culture was ripe for musical development.

We need to try to recreate that and build Irish music back up. It is still there. There is still talent and an incredible variety of different musical genres. The underlying capability and creative instinct is still there. However, two things have happened in the interim that changed the nature of how music is heard and how the music business works. The first of these was the development of all those radio stations. It is worth debating how we regulate them in terms of quality and diversity and how we get those in the industry to promote Irish music while giving them the freedom to retain their audiences and make their judgements in terms of how they play it. I am nervous about overly restricting them.

Last week, some member of the Tory Party stated that every British radio station should finish each night with "God Save the Queen". Somebody responded with John Lydon's version of "God Save the Queen" from the Sex Pistols. I slightly fear that we will just box ourselves in. What the Minister said about definitions is true. John Lydon is as Irish as anyone. I will go up to the former Frankie Kennedy Winter School, Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair in Donegal every year. Over the years I have seen all sorts of bands there. Are the Rankin Family Irish or Canadian? Is Caper Ceilidh Scottish or Irish? We could go on forever debating where we put the line. There are difficulties around it. However, it is worthwhile to consider how we do it regarding our regulation of radio.

The bigger change which has really affected the commercial viability of Irish music and the ability for people to earn a living and develop a career is the digital revolution that is altering so many things in our lives. Five or six years ago, I was on a platform with Paul Brady, one of my greatest musical heroes, and Niall Stokes who stated that it was killing them and was not working for the industry. The latter is true. The development of the Internet and social media and the flow of advertising to social media companies rather than local Irish media companies, and the fact that content can be copied, downloaded or stolen - whatever words we use - and that musicians are not getting paid, is one of the fundamental problems underlying the concern that has people sitting in the Public Gallery today.

I commend Deputy Penrose. I have listened very keenly to the different arguments in the debate. It is a very valid debate which needs to be deepened, widened and continued. I listened to what the Minister suggested regarding the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, of which I am proud to be a member, and the suggestion that we consider establishing a public forum to consider how we manage the digital revolution to protect our media industries which have been crippled by the digital revolution or are under threat. We can talk about regulating radio stations but if they are not there in three years' time due to the fact that 80% of advertising revenue is going to social media companies, it is a threat to Irish music and all the good stations and DJs that Deputy Penrose mentioned. If they are not on the air in three years' time, no percentage we determine would have an effect.

The Minister is suggesting a public forum as a course of action. I would be happy to support that. It will be difficult to do it given that we are looking at the question not just of how we protect media providers in this changing digital landscape but also content creators. However, it is valid. Why not be ambitious and think big? We may have to give it more time and broaden the involvement so that Deputy Penrose, other individuals and the industry could come along to have the debate and make their views clear. We cannot stop the tide of technology. Young Irish musicians are using it and can use it in a variety of ways. We can try to shape it and ensure we protect or develop a strong cultural industry here.

It needs to go back to those roots in the 1970s of being free spirited, anarchic and not overly controlled. Nobody completely regulated for happened in traditional Irish music in the early 1970s. It happened as a result of a number of people in their 20s getting together and expressing themselves. While we have a role in trying to protect and develop, we must be careful not to be so expressive in terms of how we regulate it that we do not stifle the creative environment.

We need to be good with digital industries. We need to get our music out on digital platforms. We need to share it with the whole world and have it played on our radio stations. I agree with the Minister that we should use this forum as a means to consider the Bill in more detail. It is not intended to stop the debate. The debate needs to be deepened and lengthened. I commend the Labour Party on starting it.

I rise to support my colleague, Deputy Penrose, on his Bill, which is very important. It is one of a number of Bills which the Labour Party will introduce in the House in the coming months to support local indigenous industries. The music industry is an incredibly important industry in all corners of Ireland. Irish music punches way above its weight. We need to support this industry which employs thousands of people. I welcome all those who are in the Gallery to support the Bill.

I think everyone in the House received a letter from the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland. I praise these radio stations, as Deputy Fitzmaurice and others did before me. They provide an absolutely essential service to all our communities. In the case of my county, Tipp FM and Tipp Mid West do a brilliant job. Tipp FM meets the Irish music quota. Fran Curry, Billy O'Shea and the rest of the team of Tipp FM make sure they support Irish music. As part of this legislation, we need to ensure the big boys as well as the small boys deliver on what is required of them. The Bill will guarantee this and ensure Irish music is not played in an ad hoc manner, as is the case at present.

I must say this straight. I find it incredible that this Fine Gael-led Government - sorry, the Minister present is gene pool Fine Gael - and Fianna Fáil are not supporting the Bill.

The Deputy's own-----

Wait a second, Deputy. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. I know the Deputy is under pressure on the Bill.

Deputy Murphy, please. I call Deputy Alan Kelly.

May I have that time back?

I know the business. I know what needs to be done.

Deputies, there can be no bilaterals.

If you know what needs to be done-----

I did more than you will ever do or ever did for the industry.

Deputy, please. Deputy Alan Kelly, without interruption.

This is hitting very close to the bone with the Deputy, is it not?

May I have that time back please, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

Deputy Penrose has been a Member of the House for 22 years and-----

Please, the time is limited.

Cop yourself on, Deputy Murphy.

Deputy Alan Kelly, without interruption.

I find it absolutely incredible that the Government and Fianna Fáil are not supporting the Bill.

I find it unbelievable. I ask them to reconsider and let the Bill pass to Committee Stage. If there are issues with the Bill-----

We will sort them out.

We will sort them out. I rarely find myself in agreement with my constituency colleague, Deputy McGrath. In fact, this is probably a first for the House.

Tell him to come back for this Bill, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

No Bill is infallible. This Bill is like any other in that regard. We will sort matters out on Committee Stage. For God's sake, I ask the Government to allow this to happen.

The definition in the Bill is the problem.

We can sort that out on Committee Stage as well if needs be.

Where has the Deputy been all these years? He was never there.

Deputy Murphy is not long in the door.

Deputies, please. We must have respect for each other.

Yes, I agree.

When Deputy Murphy is in the Chair, he understands that there must be order. Deputy Alan Kelly, without interruption. This is the last time I will do so.

Radio stations are obliged to fulfil the 25% to 30% quotas. I therefore ask the Minister the following on the record of the House, and I will send in the request as a written question if I must. Will he, through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI, or whatever, write to every single station and ask them to guarantee in writing that they will adhere to the quota of 30%, or 25% in some cases? He should at least refer back to me and tell me he will do this or get somebody else to do it. We need to ensure that all stations fulfil the quota, the big boys as well as the smaller independent stations. The latter do a fantastic job. They are not the real issue in this debate.

We have a letter from Pat Egan regarding an artist called Donna Taggart and her song "Jealous of the Angels", which has received more than 60 million hits on Facebook, topped the US Billboard chart and gone to No. 1 in Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Last month, Warner Music International signed Donna Taggart with a worldwide record contract, yet in Ireland, her own country, like so many local acts, she is deemed not good enough to be on Irish radio. I have never heard this artist on Irish radio. I do not know whether anyone else has.

My point is that the success of this artist and her not being played on Irish radio demonstrate the need for the Bill.

To quote another statistic, 90% of the royalties IMRO collects from Irish broadcasters goes to foreign artists. Is this not bonkers? We are not supporting our own. The industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, not only in production, but also in event management, PR and a range of other disciplines which all hang off the industry. These disciplines are found in all parts of Ireland, as the Minister knows, so the Bill will help support these jobs, maintain them and create more jobs in rural areas. Surely, we should support this industry. We all know what is happening to it. Spotify and other online media are disintermediating musicians. It is hard for them to get royalties and an income in the normal way because they are being disintermediated by technology. That is the reality. We therefore need ways to promote artists through the traditional medium of the radio station.

The Musicians Union of Ireland supports the Bill. A significant number of artists have written about it. The Shamrock and Harp Irish Playlist, SHIP, a who's who of Irish music, is promoting it.

I come from a little village called Portroe, part of which is a little place called Garrykennedy. Garrykennedy is very famous for Irish music and musicians. People such as Paddy O'Brien and, more recently, Gerry O'Connor, the world's best banjo player, come from the area. I have never heard Gerry O'Connor played on Irish radio, and he is from the same village as me and is the best in the world at what he does.

He was played on our station.

I have never heard him played in a prime time slot on a national radio station. Does Deputy Murphy hear me? There is something wrong about that. We were asked about the definition of Irish music in the Bill. "Musical compositions that relate to some distinguishing element of the culture of the [people of the] island of Ireland" shall meet the definition of Irish music, as per the Bill. Something around this can surely be worked out on Committee Stage.

I have also heard this yarn about European legislation. European legislation actually provides for such a measure. I will not read the legislation into the record as I do not have the time. As we know, similar measures have been introduced across a range of countries and jurisdictions in Europe.

Regarding the definition of Irish music in the Bill, Deputy Lawless asked, strangely, whether it would affect one genre of music over another. It would affect anyone who produces Irish music, whether in jazz, traditional music, rock music, whether it is The Riptide Movement, Kodaline, The Coronas, The Blizzards or whoever else. It would promote all of them and provide for thousands of jobs. We need to support the industry as much as we can. I am chairman of a music festival in Roscrea, County Tipperary, which is headlined by The Stunning, a group referred to in the House previously. This measure will support all the new bands coming through. How many of them will be able to survive into the future? They certainly will not be able to get the exposure and get out there as much as needs be if the Bill is not passed.

I grinned somewhat when I saw the Creative Ireland programme being launched recently by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It is something I support. The man who will be driving it, John Concannon, is a genius as far as I am concerned. He was the man behind the Wild Atlantic Way, The Gathering and he oversaw the 2016 programme. It is ironic that in the same week of that launch this Government cannot support what is absolutely a no-brainer when it comes to a Bill to promote Irish music. It is incredible.

I implore the Minister and Fianna Fáil in particular to support this Bill and to allow it to go to Committee Stage. It is no great thing to ask. I appeal to them to allow it to go to Committee. We all know that is the right thing to do. We all know that the industry is 100% behind this and that thousands of jobs are dependent on it.

Tuigim go bhfuil an Teachta Neville ag scoilt a chuid ama leis an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Kyne.

I welcome the discussion of the Bill. It has raised an emotive debate. We have heard a number of speakers and views. No one here wants to impede Irish music or Irish-produced music. The question is and the crux of the Bill is around the definition.

Obviously, technology has changed music - that is a no-brainer - during the past ten or 15 years in the sense of the way music is consumed. Now, it works across digital platforms. As Deputy Kelly noted, the advent of Spotify, Myspace and such platforms has led to the flattening of music and has eroded the power of record companies. Now, the artists are dealing directly with radio stations and the media.

I studied for a master’s degree in music technology in the University of Limerick in 2008. I discovered one major thing when I came out. There were seven disc jockeys - I was one of them – seven composers and seven electronic engineers on the course. However, there was no real educational push on the commercial side of music. That is something we need to work on to help artists. By their nature, artists focus on their art. It is a question of the commercial side. At the end of the day, artists have to pay bills, earn money, raise children, try to put food on the table and try to make a living out of it. More education is needed to allow them to compete with the broader market. The flattening of the industry has given them a broader market but it has increased the completion as well. It is a chicken and egg situation. It is a question of giving them the wherewithal. Many people in music have diversified into digital marketing. They work in the area because it helps them to deliver their art.

I imagine Deputy Penrose probably came up with the definition in good faith.


Sorry, I never interrupted the Deputies, so I would appreciate it if they allowed me to speak.

Perhaps I can make a decision. Deputy Neville, please continue. Deputy Penrose, do not interrupt.

The heckle was from me.

Genres such as techno were mentioned. Many Irish producers are working on techno and hip-hop. These types of music are played by many Irish artists on radio stations. I know this because I listen to these genres.

As part of my master's degree I teased out the distinction between producer, DJ and composer and where the boundaries blur when it comes to composition and playing music. How do we define what is Irish? Is it the anchor, the person actually delivering the music? Is it the composer? Is it the producer? Where does the music change? Technology and genres are moving so fast. It is extremely difficult to nail them down. I agree with the view of Deputy Eamon Ryan to the effect that in an environment where culture and creativity is allowed to flourish, we come up with brilliance. Riverdance first appeared 20 years ago. It reinvented Irish dancing. Irish dancing was probably on its knees in the popular way or as far as my age group was concerned. Then, when Riverdance came along, things changed completely. It was born out of brilliance and creativity. We are not trying to take away from Irish artists.

Deputy Penrose has ratcheted this question up the political ladder and raised the profile of the discussion. The discussion is necessary. It has been cathartic. Everyone is giving their views and talking about it.

Music scenes come and go. Technology is driving things. What used to happen in the 1980s and 1990s is not happening today. Grunge came and went. The new romantics came and went. Punk came and went. Music scenes move on. Yet, our Irish music and culture continues to survive. It is the one thing that keeps pushing through all the challenges. It comes through all the challenges. It goes through its dips and troughs but it always comes through. It is inherent in us.

I welcome the debate but I do not believe that coercing stations into playing a specific amount is going to work. We do not want to erode the platform in place already that gives bands the chance. We need to help these bands and educate them more on the commercial side. We need to help them to beat the competition.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an díospóireacht seo. Molaim an Teachta Penrose as ucht an Bhille seo a chur os ár gcomhair. Tá sé ráite ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Aire, an Teachta Naughten, go bhfuil fadhbanna ag baint leis an mBille seo. Aontaím leis an Aire go bhfuil fadhb leis an gcuóta de 40%, mar shampla. I welcome this debate. It is an interesting debate and one that has raised some genuine passions. Clearly, it is an issue of interest to all Deputies.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, public service broadcasters must ensure their service reflects the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of Ireland. RTE and TG4 have published detailed commitments on an annual basis setting out how they plan to meet these obligations across the range of services they provide. The practical implementation of these commitments is of significant benefit to Irish artists and musicians across all those services, not only on radio.

The majority of commercial stations already have a 30% quota in their broadcasting licence. Many of these stations play over and above this percentage. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, has confirmed to me that he will write to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to seek confirmation of adherence by broadcasters to this quota, as per the request of Deputy Kelly.

It is important to recognise that broadcasters are important stakeholders in this debate as well. It is also important to note the right of broadcasters to determine the type of programming and content they wish to broadcast, subject to meeting relevant licensing and legislative obligations.

As the Minister, Deputy Naughten, has outlined, the introduction of specific quotas is not always the solution. It could possibly lead to a position of strict adherence to the minimum by those upon whom they are imposed. We have already heard about the difficulties this has created in France and South Africa.

The main problem with the approach proposed by Deputy Penrose is that, despite all the efforts over the years, it has not been possible to come up with a satisfactory and workable definition of Irish music. The definition provided by Deputy Penrose is decidedly vague and I do not believe that it could be introduced as it stands. The current arrangement, whereby applicants for commercial radio licences are invited to volunteer Irish music commitments for inclusion in the programme policy statements of the station, has been found to be the most efficient solution. As these commitments are voluntary, they can include commitments based on nationality and residence and have not created any issues at European level. These commitments form part of the individual licence of each broadcaster and are monitored by the BAI on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance.

While the promotion of works by Irish artists is to be encouraged, this is not something into which public service or commercial radio stations wish to be forced. The best way to increase airplay of Irish music is for the music industry to engage with radio stations and for the parties to work together. A quota, if introduced, could or would have a negative effect. It could result in more repetitive Irish music being played, negative impacts on radio station revenues and potential resultant job losses. This can be explored in the forum to which the Minister referred earlier.

The proposed legislative approach is inflexible and could have the opposite effect of the stated intention of Deputy Penrose to promote the Irish music industry. I believe the issue would be best considered by the proposed joint Oireachtas committee broadcasting forum to which the Minister, Deputy Naughten, referred earlier. This would give all stakeholders, musicians, broadcasters and policy-makers an opportunity to consider how best to promote Irish music in such a manner that benefits all. Therefore, I urge Deputies not to support the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill. Moreover, I encourage Members to engage with the broadcasting forum on this important issue in due course.

I thank everyone who has contributed to the debate. In particular, I thank Deputy Willie Penrose for whom this subject has been a passion not only since today or yesterday but for all his life, as it has been for his family.

In many ways the debate is a reflection of our culture. Some of us have two left feet or do not have a note in our heads.

We come from families that are steeped in music where those who have talent play music and those who can write compose music. It is part of what culture is in Ireland. When this Dáil first met, we heard about the new possibilities offered by new politics. I am disappointed, therefore, to hear the Minister, Deputy Naughten, shutting ideas down. I am sure he does not mean to be snide, but I do not think it becomes him, as someone who was bristling with vision, to narrow this down as he has done.

That is unfair. I have spoken to Deputy Penrose to express my views on this matter and I have proposed a structure to enable progress to be made.

I did not disturb the Minister when he was speaking.

The Deputy's colleague interrupted me.

I ask the Minister to desist.

I did not disturb the Minister. For a long time during an earlier Dáil, I shared an office and subsequently a corridor with the former Deputy and current President, Michael D. Higgins. Nobody is saying that the Labour Party in government is perfect, but when we went into government in the 1990s we created the first ever culture Ministry in this country with the total backing of my colleague, Deputy Penrose. That is how far it goes back. People said that TG4 was in some way a figment of the Labour Party. I remind the House that Dessie O'Malley said that Michael D. Higgins would "go mad" as a Minister in government. Michael D. Higgins brought forward a vision of an engaged and active Irish culture with massive participation from every community around the country. We need to be clear that this is about our culture. Unless we can hear and play our own music and thereby help our artists and writers to get a stream of income from that music, we will not have the richness, depth and participation that has been a part of the vision in this House over the decades since we first created a Ministry for communications and culture. I remind the Minister, Deputy Naughten, that he should be very honoured to inherit part of that responsibility.

I want to take issue with a specific paragraph in the Minister's speech. He said:

The wording refers to musical composition that relates to some distinguishing element of the culture of the island of Ireland. Who is to decide what those distinguishing elements are to be? For example, will it encompass electronica music such as techno, ambient or downtempo? Furthermore, in a multi-cultural society such as we have now, how should we treat music written or enjoyed by those Irish citizens of African, eastern European or South American heritage?

For God's sake, what civil servant wrote that stuff? I suggest that whoever wrote that is creating a problem in Irish society where there is none. Has the Minister ever heard of Phil Lynott or Thin Lizzy? Has he ever walked to the top of Grafton Street to see the statue? If he stood beside it, he might feel like doing a little bit of air guitar as the Taoiseach once did. Has the Minister ever heard of Ruth Negga, who is an Irish-Ethiopian? We were delighted to learn recently that she is potentially about to receive an award in America for her cultural achievements and acting skills. What about Paul McGrath? For heaven's sake, we need to move on from an outdated and jaded image of Ireland that is not inclusive of all the different strands that go back to the Tuatha Dé Danann and make us what we are. We are an inclusive culture. I do not attribute the Minister's remarks to him personally. The language used in his speech is not the language I would associate with him. Somebody wrote it for him. When one becomes a Minister - Deputy Penrose and I have been there - it can go to one's head. One can be over-impressed by people who put words in one's hands that one is then required to parrot here.

I would like to get to the essence of this issue by referring to a line of the speech given by the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne. He said that the commitments to Irish playlists "form part of the individual licence of each broadcaster and are monitored by the BAI on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance". I ask the Minister and the Minister of State to speak with their own voices and in their own language. I do not know what kind of globalised American English this is, but it is certainly not Irish English as it is spoken in this country. It is disingenuous to make the suggestion we heard from the Minister of State. The essence of Deputy Penrose's Bill is that Irish music should have playlist opportunities in peak times. He is flexible on the issue of peak times. Perhaps this could apply from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Deputy has had a look at what happens in other jurisdictions and at how this is operable. I hear people like Liam Ó Maonlaí and Fiachna Ó Braonáin on RTE late at night and early in the morning. A former Member of this House, Pat Rabbitte, used to say that late-night politics programmes were for insomniacs and others. I am sure everybody involved in politics listens to the radio late at night and early in the morning as we sort out our thoughts. Deputy Penrose wants serious playtime at peak times.

I dislike the idea that we cannot allow a small Bill like this to go forward for further debate so that it can be pulled apart and put back together again in improved form. It seems to be contrary to new politics, which involves Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Independents facing off against each other and essentially agreeing. The objective of this legislation is for this House to make a statement about Irish culture at this time. It is important to make a commitment to that. I remind the House that musicians and artists are working to make a living and need to have a mechanism to earn that living.

Deputy Neville rightly pointed to all the changes that have happened in music distribution in terms of social media and other media. We are all aware of that. We need to put our minds together to find a means of supporting people in the music industry in Ireland. Deputy Butler suggested that this Bill "is an aggressive measure".

She may have said it was regressive.

What is regressive or indeed aggressive about the notion that Irish music and culture, in the broadest sense, should be reflected in the music that is played on our radio stations? As speakers from all sides of the House have pointed out, many stations already do this. RTE television gives a lot of attention to music, but there is certainly not enough Irish music on RTE daytime radio.

The Minister, Deputy Naughten, made a slightly snide comment when he spoke about the French quota, which has existed for a long period of time. He mentioned that the quota used in France "requires air play of music in the French language" - I remind him that it relates to the arts in general - and suggested that a similar quota here would cause problems in an English-speaking country. I really do not understand that one. I go to an Irish music festival in France every year for a couple of days. It is popular among people coming from the Willie Clancy festival. Deputies may be aware that the Willie Clancy week in Clare is called the "wet Willie" and the week in France is called the sunshine one or the warm one. The finest Irish musicians are feted every year when they go to the Dordogne, Lorient and other places. Our music is part of the draw for the French tourists whom we all welcome. If we do not ensure our children have opportunities at school and in their homes to experience Irish music by hearing it on the radio, we are at serious risk of diminishing the amazing cultural heritage we have inherited.

The Deputy's time has elapsed.

I commend this Bill to the House. I want to conclude by saying something to Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Independents.

No, you should not say anything at this point because the time is up.

Will they please think again? They should be brave; that is what politics is about. For example, if we had listened in the last Dáil to the naysayers, we would never have got the marriage referendum passed.

Why did the Deputy not do this in the last Dáil?

Deputy Burton was the leader and she did nothing.

Deputy Burton is straying way beyond the brief.

If we had listened to the naysayers, we would never have got transgender legislation passed.

The time is up.

All of those were difficult debates. This is obviously difficult for Deputy Lawless. He should take part in the debate-----

That is why I am here.

-----and allow the Bill to be debated. That is all we are asking.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 15 December 2016.