Communications minister rules out quota for Irish music on radio stations

Eamon Ryan says proposal could be contrary to EU law
Communications minister rules out quota for Irish music on radio stations
Limerick musician Emma Langford, who says Irish artists are struggling to break through to mainstream radio. 

The communications minister has ruled out the introduction of quotas for Irish music on Irish radio.

Eamon Ryan, responding to a parliamentary question from Labour's Duncan Smith, said the move could be contrary to EU law.

The stance will come as a further blow for domestic musicians who are struggling to get played on daytime radio, with Limerick musician Emma Langford saying that such exposure is needed for musicians to survive.

Currently, on Irish radio, music created in Ireland is played once to every six plays for international artists, which amounts to less than 15% of all radio play.

Mr Ryan said that while he was "supportive of the promotion of Irish music", other factors must be taken into consideration.

"Any quota for airplay would be considered to restrict free movement of services by placing music meeting certain criteria in a more advantaged position," he said.

"A quota for airplay of music in a particular language, as is the case in France, can be justified under EU case law, as the preservation and promotion of an official language of a Member State constitutes a general interest objective. 

"Unlike music in a particular language, a quota system for music produced in a particular place, as suggested in this question, does not appear to have grounds for exemption from the general requirements of EU law."

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said other factors must be taken into consideration. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said other factors must be taken into consideration. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

Ms Langford said she and other domestic musicians find it hard to break through to prime time radio.

"I wouldn't have difficulty getting played on the kinds of radio I listen to, night time for instance, but if you're not in people's kitchens during the day, you're not reaching the same size audience," she said.

"We need that kind of play to survive, and a quota could be really beneficial.

"For Irish artists who want to live and survive at home, if you're not supported, you're not becoming a household name the way bigger artists are.

"Radio play during the day equates to ticket sales at home. If you cant do that, you have to go elsewhere."

A bill calling for a 40% quota of Irish music on our radios was defeated in Dáil Éireann in 2016, proposed by Labour Westmeath TD Willie Penrose.

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