Just reading a certain Sunday columnist’s rant about Section 31 and it all seems so out of time. The idea of a legal ban on hearing people speak on broadcast media (which is effectively what Section 31 imposed on RTE) would seem laughable in the Internet era when organisations, banned or otherwise, can churn out their own casts on Youtube or Myspace and basically create and run their own channels of content. It is an out dated concept of mass communications control which in its time did more harm than good and which, to defend and protect as a principle today, seems to miss the point about how media is moving and transforming. It is increasingly becoming hard to describe how it operated to journalism or broadcast students who find it difficult to imagine a society where communications media could be so limited but Section 31 thrived in a time of limited broadcasting and indeed limited media choice in Ireland. In an era of global communications not just online but through satellite, cable and mobile the idea of cutting off banned groups from ever being heard or interviewed would be difficult to impose and police -to say the least. The Jenny McGeever and Morning Ireland case of 1988 when an audio fragment of Martin McGuinness’s voice when out on MI and caused a broadcasting crisis and utimately led to McGeever leaving RTE is particularly hard for them to grasp especially since the offending party is now in the seat of power in Stormont. Its only ten years since all this was still a live debate - it took the 2001 Broadcasting Act to finally resolve Section 31 as an issue. But it seems some people find the past hard to let go - even in a week when the British Army is packing up and shipping out and Sinn Fein and the DUP are jointly representing their case in Dublin, London and Brussels. Pity - the past is worth knowing and learning from but a place to live on a daily basis.
Archive for July, 2007
Its been amazing but literally every day this week we’ve had a new major project developing in podcasting. The phone and email queries have jumped up and it seems everyone wants to know how to turn into podcasting. When we launched podcastingireland.ie in March 2006 we had been working on podcasting for about nine months but there were hardly any professional podcasts in Ireland and even the radio stations had barely put their toe in the water. Its only last Summer since RTE went into podcasting and there’s still just a few hundred full scale Irish podcasts out there. Many people kicked off well but lots of people have fallen by the way leaving half forgotten links and podcasts in cyberspace. Being in early has paid off for us. 02 Making Waves - our weekly music show - sponsored by 02 since its launch - is now well into its second year with lots of new plans for growth and development. Vhi Health Club just pasted its first year and comes back in full swing in September. We’ve had nearly 100,000 downloads in total between the two channels with about 60,000 on Vhi Health Club and the numbers are growing all the times for both shows. We’re also producing corporate and advocacy podcasts like our work with the National Consumer Council and expect to see a lot more state podcasting in the future. We’re in the midst of seeing the switch on light for online content in Ireland. The interest is coming because people are beginning to see how podcasting - both audio and video - can transform their communications. The increased penetration of broadband is helping (although its still a major headache!) but the profile podcasting is getting from radio stations like RTE and Newstalk is ensuring that the technology and terms are becoming everyday. We’re getting less people ask ‘what’s a podcast?’ - the questions now are ‘how can you make it work for me?’ and ‘how can we support this on a continually basis?’. We’re working with big and small companies, theatres, public and private firms and NGOs. Everyone can benefit from looking at where content is going and how they can reach out to both their own staff and the public in a very different and engaging way. We’re delighted to see more and more companies putting their toe in the podcasting sea. Its the future - so the sooner you get wet the better!
Anita at Athena Media can arrange quotes and demonstrations if you want to follow up or just find out more. Thanks for finding us! Helen
The recent sale of Emap’s Irish radio stations, including national service, Today FM, to Denis O’Brien’s company Communicorp has opened up debate over the issue of media ownership and concentration of interests. There’s been a lot of confused comment with more focus on O’Brien’s own personality and profile rather than the core issues at stake. In reality Ireland is still at a stage where the radio and broadcasting business in general is maturing and we’re still some way from any real concerns over new commercial monopolies. The media being dominated by a handful of players does have an impact on society and the level of information and content citizens are exposed to - but in Ireland the reality is we need strong Irish led media businesses in independent broadcasting and to a large degree the growth and development of Communicorp has to be welcomed. The real challenge for Communicorp in the deal is the level of dominance it gives the company in Dublin - particularly by holding three of the commercial licences and two direct competitors FM 104 and 98 FM. It seems Commnicorp hopes that the deal can be sweetened by the prospect of a sale of Spin FM - but its hard to see how that will make its Dublin position fit as it will still hold both commercial national licences and the two key Dublin ones. In the end its likely that the Competition Authority will seek a sale of one of the big two - FM 104 or 98 FM in order to let the deal through. For Communicorp the main win will be a national network and the ability to sell Today FM and Newstalk together - a music and speech partnership - which will allow it to rival RTE’s national offering in 2FM and Radio 1. Increasingly the RTE Radio hold on uniqueness is being challenge and it needs to hold firm to its public brief - to define and met the need of being different in a market where what they currently do is often being done by commercial competitors. RTE Lyric FM and RnaG - the least commercial of its network - are ironically the strongest card in this battle of definition and difference. RTE Radio 1 and 2FM need to maintain and grow that degree of separation by doing things the others don’t do - like arts, science, children’s programming and special event. Utimately the audience, the listeners, should benefit and perhaps it will take this Communicorp challenge for RTE to recognise that being different and taking risks is what will confirm and defend its future.
The number of users for our podcasts on sister site podcastingireland.ie have grown and grown each month with June 2007 showing a record high of over 7,000 downloads for Vhi Health Club and over 5,000 for 02 Making Waves. The popularity of the podcasts (which are currently radio like online shows) has built over the year with Vhi Health Club marking its first birthday in July with nearly 60,000 downloads in all. Not bad for an emerging content distribution platform! The traffic to podcastingireland.ie is now over 200,000 a month with a stready daily traffic predominately from Europe and the US with some presence in Australia. Our podcasts are soon to go mobile so it will easier and easier to get the content and use it. So if you haven’t tried it yet - join in today and register on podcastingireland.ie - its free and easy to suscribe to podcasts and the directory has the most comprehensive guide to Irish made podcasts anywhere so that you can hear podcasts from RTE. Newstalk and all the other major players now putting their content online.
The new Athena Media Showreel is up on this site and on MySpace - take a look at our videos page… There’s also a selection of previous shorts made for RTE One up there.
For more information contact info @ athenamedia.ie and take a look through this site for more television, radio and podcast samples.
Thanks - Athena Media