TD Willie Penrose wants DJs to give 30% of airtime to Irish acts

It won’t be music to the ears of pop stars like Beyonce, One Direction, and Taylor Swift but Irish radio stations could soon be forced into ditching their latest singles for rarely heard indigenous Irish bands.

Under proposed plans agreed in theory by the Dáil, DJs will from later this year face a new quota regime designed to give at least 30% of their airtime to Irish-based acts otherwise struggling to break through onto the national airwaves.

The move was put forward by Labour TD Willie Penrose yesterday, with the opposition politician saying there is a need to guarantee Irish acts high-profile space to encourage the local industry and “our unique cultural ethos”.

The potential new law is still in its early stages, with the proposal due to be considered by the Seanad in September before returning to the Dáil for a further debate.

However, urging TDs to back the plan, Mr Penrose said it was vital that traditional Irish music and modern local acts were given the supports they needed to compete with superstars on our stations. The opposition TD said it had been “repeatedly debunked” that Irish acts did not need a quota here, as they are struggling to make a living in the competitive music world.

He claimed the recent vote in Britain to leave the EU means officials may now be forced to “cop on” over continent-wide laws preventing alleged bias in favour of local acts over foreign alternatives.

“That law [preventing bias in favour of local acts] does not stand up to any scrutiny. Why were they able to do it in France? Now with the Brexit vote, maybe the EU should cop itself on,” said Mr Penrose.

He said musicians from this country — ranging from traditional singers to world renowned groups like U2 — make up less than 3% of songs played on air compared to the 30% being proposed.

He said the situation is preventing new generations from hearing singers like Paul Brady, Mary Black, the Fureys, and “even Louis Walsh”, and suggested that if the proposal became law later this year “we can maybe have a press conference and an impromptu concert at that stage”.


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