Deputy Ó Snodaigh may wish to make one comment on the last session, but we will move to the principal objects and associated powers of TG4 and alterations by the Minister to its remit. That will be heads Nos. 114 and 115. Deputy Ó Snodaigh may wish to comment himself before moving onto those other questions.
Independence and Remit of TG4.
Seo an méid atá le rá agam faoi seo. Níl aon easaontas eadrainn ach foirm na gcosaintí seo agus conas is féidir linn iachall a chur ar an údarás nua seo ní amháin cosaint a chur ann ach cur leis an méid Gaeilge atá ann, ar bhonn céatadáin nó ar bhonn sraith coinníollacha, mar a dúirt an tUas. de Spáinn, dóibh siúd a fhaigheann ceadúnas craolacháin ón Stát. Glacaimid leis go bhfuil an dá theanga ann go bunreachtúil. Tá brú ann aitheantas a thabhairt do na teangacha eile ar fad. An é go gcuirimid isteach mír ag leagadh síos go bhfuil tús áite ag an dá theanga oifigiúil? Ina dhiaidh sin, is féidir leis na heagrais chraolacháin seo díriú isteach ar na cultúir agus teangacha nua gan cur isteach ar an méid atá ar fáil i nGaeilge. Conas is féidir linn cinntiú, agus muid ag déileáil le cultúr go ginearálta, nach ngearrtar siar ar an méid atá i nGaeilge chun cuidiú le teangacha eile nó chun réimse clár a chur ar fáil i dteangacha eile? Ba cheart dúinn cur leis an méid atá i nGaeilge agus an méid atá ar fáil i dteangacha eile mar aon.
Sin rud ginearálta, ach maidir leis an cheann seo ag déileáil le TG4 ann féin, an bhfuil gá cosaint bhreise a thabhairt don stádas agus don remit speisialta atá ag Teilifís na Gaeilge sa reachtaíocht seo ionas go mbeidh an chosaint ann nach mbeadh Aire amach anseo in ann athrú a dhéanamh air gan comhairle phoiblí nó reachtaíocht nua? Faoi láthair, tá a fhios againn ar fad cén remit atá ag Teilifís na Gaeilge, ach faoin reachtaíocht, tá an deis ag Aire amach anseo díriú isteach air. Conas is féidir linn an stádas sin, TG4 agus an obair atá á déanamh aige, a chosaint?
Chomh maith leis sin, conas is féidir linn cinntiú go mbeidh TG4 ar fáil ar an oileán ar fad agus ceangal a dhéanamh idir an údarás craolacháin seo agus a chomhghleacaí sna Sé Chontae le cinntiú go mbeidh siadsan ag díriú isteach ar an Ghaeilge a chosaint? Ba cheart do TG4 a bheith ar fáil sna Sé Chontae ar fad agus, amach anseo, b'fhéidir i Sasana, má táthar ag cur RTE ar fáil thall ansin.
Mr. Ó Gallchóir
Ó thaobh cúrsaí airgid de agus head Uimh. 116, tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh maoiniú ag TG4. Aontaím go dtí pointe go bhfuil sé ag brath cuid mhór ar an Aire nó an Rialtas ag an am. Is é an príomhrud atá ráite againn ná go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go mbeidh buiséad ar luach thart ar €50 milliún sa bhliain aige, agus fáiltím roimh an mhéid atá ráite ag an Aire le cúpla mí anuas go bhfuil sé i gceist ardú a thabhairt do TG4 gach bliain go dtí 2010. Tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeadh cosaint againn agus cinnteacht ann faoin mhéid airgid a bheadh againn.
Maidir le TG4 a bheith ar fáil ar fud an oileáin, ba mhaith liom dhá phointe a dhéanamh. Is an chéad cheann acu ná go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go bhfuil teacht ag an phobal ar TG4. Tá sé seo ar fáil trí overspill ón Deisceart, NTL sa Tuaisceart, Sky ar fud an oileáin agus ar chrann Duibhis go hanalógach. Déanfaidh muid gach iarracht le cinntiú go mbeidh sé ar fáil ar fud an oileáin go hiomlán. Is é an dara rud ná go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go mbeadh earnáil neamhspleách Gaeilge sa Tuaisceart, rud atá tosnaithe anois. Tá cuidiú mór faighte ó chiste an ILBF faoi Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta. Tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh TG4 ar fáil don phobal ó Thuaidh, go mbeadh earnáil neamhspleách ansin, agus go mbeadh an pobal ansin ag déanamh clár faoi féin.
Má tá sé in ord, caithfidh mé labhairt i mBéarla. Like previous speakers, I acknowledge the importance of TG4, its function and independence. I compliment the station on its work in promoting the Irish language and culture. Earlier Deputy Dempsey referred to the major contribution made by various individuals in the sports arena. Previously I mentioned how they had done a tremendous job by removing the elitism that often surrounded the language. This is of enormous importance and a tremendous job has been done in this regard. I wish to ascertain whether TG4 is satisfied it has sufficient latitude to face the future, given its responsibility and remit regarding the Irish language and culture. Do its representatives believe the legislation as proposed will be sufficient to allow it to develop its responsibility and remit to the required extent?
My last point is simply a personal view. Yesterday the joint committee discussed subtitling and I am unsure whether it is of any benefit in encouraging people to learn the language or become immersed in the culture. Too much attention is given to reading the translations, at the expense of absorbing oneself in the totality of what is being presented.
Mr. Alan Esslemont
As the Deputy recognised, perhaps for the first time we have tried to put Irish into the mainstream of Irish life. While this has been done by breaking quite a few rules regarding the normal mode of Irish language broadcasting, it has worked to a considerable degree. As Mr. Ó Gallchóir noted, as our budget is extremely tight, we are highly restricted in comparison with other public service broadcasters. A key factor in enabling us to continue the work we have done in the past ten years would be to fix the budget in order that we could look forward for a three year period in the knowledge that our resources were sufficient to fulfil our remit.
As for learning the language, I am unsure whether people learn languages by watching television. No studies show this to be the case. As someone who has learned Irish, audio-visual aids are excellent for this purpose, but perhaps not always as part of a linear schedule. One can create audio-visual programmes that may be found on the worldwide web and played repeatedly or put on one's iPod and listened to time and again. This is probably the best way forward in learning the Irish language, rather than believing we are obliged to put out a half hour programme at 7.30 p.m. for six weeks and then forgetting about it. The creation of audio-visual projects, directed at a specific target rather than a public broadcast, may be the best way forward in this regard.
Before Mr. O'Keeffe makes his comments, the joint committee has received a considerable number of submissions on the constitution of the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's board. I am conscious he represents the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, BCI, rather than the new board. However, can he comment on whether there should be a proportionate number of people fluent i nGaeilge, as the BAI will be responsible for all broadcasting services?
Our submission did not particularly address that issue. From the perspective of the Irish language, I wished to make a point regarding the responsibilities of and requirements on broadcasters in the independent sector. We are involved with Foras na Gaeilge in a coiste which considers the establishment of programming initiatives as Gaeilge. Ms Ní Bhroinn, who is secretary of the coiste, will give the committee an indication of some of the activities taking place in this regard.
Ms Niamh Ní Bhroinn
Go bunúsach, bunaíodh an choiste forbartha um cláracha Ghaeilge i gcomhair le Foras na Gaeilge i 1999. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an gcoiste an Ghaeilge a fhorbairt agus a chuir chun cinn ar na meáin neamhspleachá sa tír. Faoi láthair, tá roinnt rudaí difriúla a dhéanamh ag an gcoiste chun an Ghaeilge a chuir chun cinn. Tá comórtas "Réalt DJ" ar siúl, mar shampla. Déanann an choiste urraíocht ar na comórtais a bhíonn ag Glór na nGael. Déanann an choiste iarracht a bheith i dteagmháil leis na stáisiúin le cinntiú go bhfuil tacaíocht ar fáil dóibh chun cláracha a chuir amach trí Ghaeilge. Tháinig na cláracha "Top 40 Oifigiúil na hÉireann" agus "Giotaí" amach de thoradh obair an choiste.
Has Mr. Quinn any comments to make on what we discussed so far?
Baineann na rudaí atá á phlé anseo go bunúsach le TG4 nó leis an udarás nua craolacháin na hÉireann. Aontaím go pearsanta lena lán atá ráite anseo. Ba mhaith liom comhairle beag a thabhairt - ba cheart dúinn a bheith cúramach mar gheall ar an Ghaeilge a dhéanamh éigeantach. Tá a fhios againn cad a tharla nuair a raibh an Ghaeilge éigeantach sna bunscoileanna agus na scoileanna eile anseo ar feadh na blianta - rinne sé an-dochar don Ghaeilge, chun an fhírinne a rá. Molaim go mbeimís cúramach mar gheall ar an éigeantas ó thaobh na Ghaeilge de.
I will give Mr. Treacy 60 seconds to put across his point because he is a great man for speaking. He visited my office in Cork recently and told me there was a need for additional provision in the Bill with regard to safeguarding Irish culture, particularly in respect of music. I give him an opportunity to inform the committee of his concerns.
I was writing an article on this issue for my music magazine called Backstage Traffic and I contacted Aoife Clabby from the BCI to get clarification from Europe as to the definition of Irish music in respect of licences. I have the information she gave me.
Is it a large amount of information?
No. It is taken from a European directive.
All I am interested in are Mr. Treacy's views.
According to the information I received, it contributes to a distinctively Irish contemporary music culture by engaging with lyrical teams that deal with the history of Ireland and the contemporary realities of life in Ireland today. It relates the stories and experiences of Irish people or contains, reflects or develops an Irish musical form, especially those which are identifiably part of the living tradition, that is, reels, jigs, polkas, etc.
Ms Clabby said this was the way in which the BCI gave out licences. According to Ms Clabby, the BCI asks respective applicant groups for commercial licences to provide a definition of Irish music for their proposed service and cross-references it against the agreed definition to which I previously referred to ensure it complies. She stated that in the vast majority of cases, each station provides a tighter, more focused definition of Irish music than is permitted by the EU. It is the radio stations that state what they will play rather than the EU, thereby breaking the EU tradition since the ratification of the directive. Mr. O'Keeffe might provide some information on how this works.
Mr. Treacy made a submission and we wanted to give him an opportunity to appear before the committee so we thank him for attending.
Could I make an additional point?
Mr. Treacy should remember that I am under a terrible time constraint. I will hear from Mr. O'Keeffe in a moment.
I am aware of this. We carried out a considerable amount of work last year to get some figures for the committee. The Music Makers Association of Ireland carried out a survey last year that revealed that 91.3% of the places surveyed had no Irish music on their background systems. We surveyed 41 hotels and found that only three of them had Irish music in the background systems.
We must stick to the business of the Bill.
This is very important for our culture. We found that out of a total of 17 premises we surveyed in Killarney, three had Irish music. A total of 14 hotels in Blarney, which is one of the two main tourist areas in Ireland-----
Blarney is a great spot where I constantly hear Irish music.
We found that two premises had Irish music. Of 40 businesses surveyed in Cork, none had any Irish music. Less than one in ten businesses we surveyed had any Irish music.
I thank Mr. Treacy for making his point.
On that point-----
I must turn to Mr. O'Keeffe.
I will make my point very briefly.
Will the Deputy answer as well?
No, I would not expect the Chairman to do so as it would not be fair to him at this stage of the proceedings.
I ask the Deputy to work with me on the time constraints.
I have received communications from constituents which are along the same line. It is possibly a matter for another forum or another time. In general, TG4 is doing a reasonably good job. There needs to be an evaluation of how Irish folk and traditional music must evolve. We must move it forward. In the 1960s, we had Seán Ó Riada and various people who promoted the concept and modernised it and gave it a new meaning. This needs to happen again. There then needs to be a recognition by the broadcasters that this is part of our tradition, be it as Gaeilge or as Béarla, and transcends all languages. This is an important point.
Was Seán Ó Riada also from Cork?
There were references to the policy which is supported at EU level and the definition of Irish music. I could bore the committee with considerable details about this. The definition we use is operated by all the stations. The issue is slightly different in that it relates to the nature of the music played. Clearly, certain pop stations do not play certain types of music and so forth. Perhaps we might be able to address this through licensing. We are licensing additional services.
Has Mr. O'Keeffe taken note of what Mr. Treacy said?
Absolutely. We have been liaising with him.
I have two questions for Mr. Ó Gallchóir. Does he think it necessary for all members on the audience council for TG4 to be fluent as Gaeilge? I have a point to make in respect to the electronic programme guide, EPG, for example that of NTL or Chorus. I am a customer of NTL in Dublin and Chorus in Cork, but I noticed that TG4 is way down the EPG. BBC comes up first on the EPG, which we will discuss in respect of Channel 6 after lunch. Has Mr. Ó Gallchóir any views on that and whether the digital operators here under the jurisdiction of the laws of this land should be compelled to ensure that national channels come first on the EPG, in the same way as RTE1 is followed by Network 2, TV3, TG4 and Channel 6?
Mr. Ó Gallchóir
Public service broadcasters should be a must-carry and TG4 should have a prominent position on the EPG. This position should be number 4, as it is with the Sky 104 position. The audience council for TG4 should hold its meetings as Gaeilge and do its work through Irish.
Has Deputy Ó Snodaigh any concluding remarks?
I could go on for a while, but I will not do so. The debate in respect of what constitutes Irish music or culture is ongoing. There is now an additional responsibility on the Arts Council to promote Irish traditional music and arts. One of the points raised by Mr. Treacy is that the Arts Council should possibly approach hotels and similar establishments to encourage them to change the music they play in the background. We should look at trying to ensure that all public service broadcasters have quotas or are encouraged to use more Irish music beyond pop music, such as that played by U2 or the Corrs, in terms of music in the Irish language and to encourage smaller up-and-coming bands who do not get the airplay. Encouraging the entire range of cultures in Ireland is one of the jobs of public service broadcasting. A longer debate should be considered as the Bill progresses to underline how this can be reflected in public service broadcasting.
Mr. de Spáinn
Is é an chéad rud atá san alt sin ná na príomh-cuspóirí atá ag TG4. Is é ceann de na rudaí atá in easnamh sa chéad mhír ná nach bhfuil aon rud luaite faoin Ghaeilge. B'fhéidir gur chóir go mbeadh an focal ann. Táimíd ag moladh go mbeidh seirbhís náisiúnta craolacháin teilifíse go príomha i nGaeilge - go mbeidh an Ghaeilge luaite go sonrach. Labhair Mr. MacPoilin níos luaithe mar gheall ar conas gur féidir a chuir i bhfeidhm an céatadán, nó méid, Ghaeilge a úsáidtear. Caithfear a bheith an-cúramach leis seo. Tá sé luaite i mír 4(m) de cuid 114, ó thaobh an tuairisciú ar na rudaí atá ag dul ar aghaidh san Oireachtas, go gcaithfimid a bheith cúramach go bhfuil na rudaí a chraolfar i nGaeilge ag amanna gur féidir le gach duine breathnú orthu. Mar shampla, má cuirfimid an tuairisc ar an Oireachtas ar siúl ar 11 i.n. san oíche, ní bheidh aon seans ann go spreagfaimid daoine óga chun suim a chuir i gcúrsaí an Oireachtais. Caithfear é sin a thabhairt san áireamh i ngach chuid den Bhille seo, ó thaobh na dualgais a bheidh ar grúpaí áirithe faoin nGaeilge.
Labhair duine éigin mar gheall ar an focal "éigeanteach". Caithfear an focal a sheachaint, mar nílimid ag caint faoin Ghailge a dhéanamh éigeanteach. Táimid ag rá gur chóir go mbeidh sé mar chuid de dhualgais na grúpaí éagsúla. Ar nós an chaoi ina bhfuil dualgas orthu an nuacht a chuir ar fáil don phobail, ba chóir go mbeadh dualgas orthu freisin an Ghaeilge a chuir san áireamh sa mhéid is atá ar siúl acu.
Luaigh cainteoir rud éigin mar gheall ar fotheidil, agus an dualgas atá ag TG4 cabhrú le daoine atá ag foghlaim na Ghaeilge. Tá a fhois agam go bhfuil TG4 ag smaoineamh ar fotheidil as Gaeilge. B'fhéidir gur sin an bhealach chun tosaigh. Cabhródh fotheidil as Gaeilge le an-chuid fhoglaimeoirí atá iarraidh scríobh na Ghaeilge a fhoglaim.
Mr. Ó Ceithearnaigh
Tacaím leis an méid atá ráite ag Mr. de Spáinn maidir leis an ról a bheidh ag TG4 ó thaobh na Ghaeilge go príomha. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon gá ann go mbeadh cumhacht ag TG4 chun, mar a deireann sé i mír 4(m), "provide programmes of news and current affairs in the Irish and English languages". Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon gá go mbeadh cumhacht ag TG4 é a dhéanamh i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge. Tá neart stáisiúin á dhéanamh i mBéarla cheana féin. Tacaím go huile agus go hiomlán leis an méid a dúirt ceannasaí TG4 níos luaithe maidir le airgead. Muna bhfuil bonn airgid ceart faoi TG4, is cuma sa tsioc faoin CPI. Caithfear é a thógáil agus an bhonn ceart a chuir faoi anois, agus é a thógáil as sin ar aghaidh.
Go raibh maith agat. I thank the witnesses for appearing before the committee. The sitting will resume at 2 p.m. to discuss clarification of the objectives of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and consider the compliance and contracts committees. We will also consider the EPG in respect of British Sky Broadcasting and the difficulties we have with it.