In three years Irelandís broadband penetration has gone from year zero to half a million subscribers Ė but its still too few and too slow to allow us to catch up with our nearest neighbours in the UK or many of our colleagues across mainland Europe. The reality is our rather pathetic broadband profile is not just holding us back, and hitting our participation in the economic and social impacts of the Web 2.0 world, but itís cushioning Irelandís media world from the new media transformation and thereís still few examples of leadership amongst traditional media empires.
In Ireland traditional media groups still talk dismissively about audience shifts online and under-estimate the changed dynamic of media habits of the under 25 years generation. Yet not too far away from us, in the UK, advertising spending on the Internet has now overtaken not just newspapers and radio but commercial TV. And the recent RAJAR (radio audience rating survey in the UK) results showed a loss of a million young people under 25 from radio listening despite the fact that that age group has increased in the UK during that period. Surveys from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, show young people are turning from newspapers and linear media like TV as their media hours online grow. Itís a European trend with recent studies showing young peopleís daily media habits are now defined by social networks like Myspace.com rather than traditional media. In Ireland the shift online is most marked amongst young audiences but the lack of high speed access to the Internet blinkers our understanding of the dramatic and dynamic media shift across the US, UK and many of our key European Union colleagues and ill prepares us for the future.
While many radio, TV and national newspapers executives may well smile at the prolonged advertising boom that the lack of broadband has given them Ė itís a short-lived reprieve. Our broadband poverty is easing and while itís holding us back itís simply delaying, rather than preventing, our participating in the dynamic web media environment. The best approach, during this slow motion journey into the future, might be to get ready for the broadband roadway when itís here rather than sitting King Canute like and thinking that 19 year olds are going to grow into newspaper reading and traditional linear media. While youíre patiently waiting for that Ė theyíll be busy creating their own media and pushing all their favourite content not just online but mobile.