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Media in the Republic of Ireland

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Media in the Republic of Ireland

Life in Ireland

The Media of Ireland includes all the media and communications outlets of Ireland.

Ireland has a traditionally competitive print media, which is divided into daily national newspapers and weekly regional newspapers, as well as national Sunday editions. The strength of the British press is a unique feature of the Irish print media scene, with the availability of a wide selection of British published newspapers and magazines.[1]

Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is the public service broadcaster of Ireland and is funded by a licence fee and advertising.[2] RTÉ operates two national television channels, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two. The other independent national television channels areTV3 and sister channel 3e. TG4 is a public service broadcaster for speakers of the Irish language. All of these channels are available on Saorview, the national free-to-air digital terrestrial television service.[3] Additional channels included in the service are RTE One HD RTÉ Two HD, RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr, and RTÉ One +1. Subscription services include UPC (United Pan-Europe Communications) and Sky.

A large number of regional and local radio stations are available countrywide. A survey showed that a consistent 85% of adults listen to a mixture of national, regional and local stations on a daily basis.[4] RTÉ Radio operates four national stations, Radio 1, 2fm, Lyric fm, and RnaG, alongside two independent national stations, Today FM and Newstalk.

Supported by An Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Irish Film Board), the Irish film industry has grown significantly since the 1990s, with the promotion of indigenous films such as Intermission and Breakfast on Pluto, as well as the attraction of international productions such as Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.



Newspapers are extremely popular in Ireland. According to the market penetration for daily newspapers runs at 190% and 350% for Sunday titles. For comparison, US newspaper market penetration is only 51%.

There are several daily newspapers in Ireland, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times, Irish Daily Star, and the Evening Herald. The best selling of these is the Irish Independent, which is published in both tabloid and broadsheet formats.

The leading Sunday newspaper in terms of circulation is the Sunday Independent which has over a million readers each week, a very large number considering that Ireland has only 1.25 million households. Other popular papers include The Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Business Post, Ireland on Sunday and the Sunday World (the latter published in separate editions for the Republic and Northern Ireland).

One noted trend in Irish newspapers is the presence of Irish editions of UK newspapers, these include The Irish Sun, Irish Mirror, Irish News of the World, and the Irish edition of The Sunday Times, the only one of the Irish editions that is of a broadsheet newspaper. The Irish Daily Star also is sometimes placed in this category, though it has a far greater Irish content than the other UK editions, and is also 50% owned by Independent News and Media. Following the success of Ireland on Sunday (an Irish version of the Mail on Sunday), the Irish Daily Mail was launched in February 2006, with Ireland on Sunday itself being rebranded The Irish Mail on Sunday in September 2006.

There are quite a large number of local weekly newspapers, with most counties and large towns having two or more newspapers. In Munster the Evening Echo, published in separate editions for Cork and Limerick, is a daily local newspaper. Curiously Dublin remains one of the few places in Ireland without a major local paper; The Dublin Evening Mail having closed down in the 1960s. The Evening Herald markets itself from time to time as a Dublin local newspaper, however it is distributed nationally. In 2003 the Dublin Daily was launched, but failed to attract enough readers to make it viable, and closed after 90 issues and a full rebrand as the Dublin Evening. In 2008, a number of local papers have been launched by the Gazette Group.

Some political parties in Ireland have their own newspapers. Perhaps the most well-known is the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht which at its height sold 60,000 copies per-week. Others include the The Starry Plough of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Saoirse Irish Freedom of the Republican Sinn Féin party, The Socialist Voice of the Communist Party of Ireland, The Socialist of the Socialist Party (Ireland) and the Socialist Worker of the Socialist Workers Party.

In Autumn 2005 Daily Mail and General Trust revealed a plan to launch a free newspaper in the Dublin market, entitled Metro. Independent News and Media decided to respond with a free version of the Evening Herald, to be called Herald Metro. DGMT took legal action against INM to prevent them using the word "Metro" in the title of a freesheet newspaper. On 7 October 2005 an injunction was granted to DGMT to this effect. It was also revealed that the Irish Times would be taking a 33% stake in Metro and would be printing the title. On 10 October Metro launched, however INM simply altered the title of its rival freesheet to Herald AM, and launched it on the same date.

There are also a number of newspapers printed in Irish. These include Foinse, a weekly newspaper and Lá Nua, a daily newspaper. Foinse mainly focuses on Irish language related matters and Gaeltacht affairs, but also contains many other areas including current affairs, national and international events and other features, including 'Foinse sa Rang' a segment aimed at helping Leaving Certificate students with their Irish exam. Lá Nua is printed in Belfast and focuses on current events and politics.

The Independent News & Media group has a large presence in the Irish media market, especially in newspapers. It owns the Evening Herald, Irish Independent, and Sunday Independent, controls the Sunday World and The Star, and exercises a large degree of influence on the Sunday Tribune. Until 2004 it also held a large stake in the cable company Chorus Communications.

The main Irish publications are often strongly identified with a political agenda. The Irish Times is probably Ireland's most liberal newspaper on social issues, whereas the Irish Independent is seen as more conservative. None of the main Irish newspapers are now defined as allied with a particular political party, although the Irish Press when published was staunchly pro-Fianna Fáil, and the Irish Times was seen prior to the 1960s as being pro-Unionist.


The Irish magazine market is one of the world's most competitive with hundreds of international magazines available in Ireland ranging from Time and The Economist to Hello! and Reader's Digest. This means that domestic titles can find it very hard to retain readership. Among the best selling Irish magazines are the RTÉ Guide, Women's Way, VIP, U, Image Magazine, Irish Tatler, Hot Press, Phoenix, Business and Finance, Garden Heaven, and Ireland's Own.

The Irish market also contains a large number of business to business titles including Checkout, Irish Marketing Journal and Hospitality Ireland.

In addition, there are many professional and scientific journals, with frequencies ranging from annual to monthly.


Broadcasting in Ireland is divided into public service and commercial broadcasting sectors. Since October 2009 both sectors have been regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) which replaced the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).[6]

The Broadcasting Authority Acts 1960–2002 established the public sector broadcaster, Raidió Teilifís Éireann. RTÉ is financed by a mixture of licence fees paid by owners of television receivers, and advertising revenues. It is governed by a statutory authority appointed by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Under the Broadcasting Act 2001 a second statutory corporation, Telefís na Gaeilge, was set up in 2007 to run the Irish language channel TG4, which was previously operated by RTÉ.[6]

The commercial sector consists of appointed programme contractors who are granted broadcasting licences by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The contractors have specific public service obligations, most notably, a requirement for 20% news and current affairs.[6]


A television licence is required for any address at which there is a television set or device that is not exempt. The annual licence fee is €160. The licence is free to senior citizens (to anyone over the age of 70, some over 66), some Social Welfare recipients, and individuals who are blind.[7]

Analogue television

Analogue television was switched off across Ireland on 24 October 2012.[8] In accordance with EU legislation, digital terrestrial television (DTT) networks replaced the analogue television network.[9]

Digital terrestrial television

Saorview is the digital terrestrial television (DTT) service in Ireland.[10][11] Ireland has four national terrestrial channels: RTÉ One, RTÉ Two – both operated directly by RTÉ, TG4, operated by Telifís na Gaeilge, and TV3, operated by TV3 Television Network Limited.

A significant amount of terrestrial transmission overspill exists between transmissions from north and south of the Irish border, with a large portion of the population of Northern Ireland currently able to receive digital terrestrial television broadcasts from the Republic, and many in the Border Region of the Republic and beyond able to receive UK Freeview transmissions from north of the border.


The first known radio transmission in Ireland was a call to arms made from the General Post Office in O'Connell Street during the Easter Rising. The first official radio station on the island was 2BE Belfast, which began broadcasting in 1924. This was followed in 1926 by 2RN Dublin and 6CK Cork in 1927. 2BE Belfast later became BBC Radio Ulster and 2RN Dublin became RTÉ.

Ireland has five national radio stations: RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2fm, RTÉ lyric fm, and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta are operated by RTÉ Radio, while Today FM is a commercial radio station operated by Denis Obrien group communicorp. Newstalk 106, a Dublin local station, has been issued a "quasi-national" FM licence, and a similarly limited AM licence has been advertised for a religious service, presumably to quell the rising amounts of religious stations on Irish pirate radio. A "multi-city" service, consisting of one ILR franchise operating a single service in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, has been awarded to 4FM which is expected to launch in early 2009.

The main commercial radio service is the Independent Local Radio network. This consists of 18 commercial stations licensed for different franchise areas. Except in Dublin and Cork, they operate as monopolies. Six, soon to be seven, stations are now licensed in Dublin and two in Cork. They operate a common news service, Independent Network News, and a common sales house, Independent Radio Sales. The first of these stations, FM104, came on air in 1989. One independent regional radio station, Beat 102-103, currently also exists, with further franchises having been advertised. Contracts are also issued for non-commercial community of interest and local community stations.


Main article: Cinema of Ireland

The Irish Film industry has grown rapidly in recent years thanks largely to the promotion of the sector by Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Irish Film Board)[12] and the introduction of heavy tax breaks. Some of the most successful Irish films include the Palme d'Or winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), Intermission (2001), Man About Dog (2004), Michael Collins (1996), Angela's Ashes (1999), The Commitments (1991), The Field (1990), and Once (2007). Michael Collins is the highest grossing Irish film ever in Ireland, making £4,000,000.[1]

Reputable Irish film makers include Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan, Conor McPherson, Martin McDonagh, Damien O'Donnell, Paddy Breathnach, and Thaddeus O'Sullivan. Famous Irish actors include David Kelly, Maureen O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Colin Farrell, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Colm Meaney, Brenda Fricker, Stuart Townsend, Michael Gambon, Fionnula Flanagan and Cillian Murphy.

Ireland has also proved a popular location for shooting films with The Quiet Man (1952), Braveheart (1995), the Omaha Beach landing scene from Saving Private Ryan (1998), Reign of Fire (2002) and King Arthur (2004) all being shot in Ireland. The first film ever shot in Ireland was The Lad from Old Ireland (1910), which was advertised as "The first ever film recorded on two continents". The film was a short silent story about a young Irishman who went to the USA to find riches, before returning home to save his family home from the bailiffs.

Ireland has a high rate of cinema admissions (the highest in Europe). The biggest multiplex chain in the country is Ward Anderson (owners of the Cineplex, Omniplex, and Savoy brands), with other cinemas being owned by Entertainment Enterprises Limited (operated by Odeon Cinemas as UCI, their former owners), Cineworld (formerly UGC Cinemas), and Vue (formerly Ster Century). In autumn 2005, a new multiplex cinema chain, Movies@, entered the market, opening its first cinema in Dundrum, with Galway and Swords sites to come.

There is also a large video rental market, dominated by Xtravision, previously a subsidiary of Blockbuster Video.

New Media Technology College (NMTC) is the leading media training provider in Ireland. NMTC is in award-winning College accredited by the European Broadcasting Union.


Most Irish newspapers have online offerings and in recent years new startups which concentrate totally on internet publishing have launched, including

Ireland has a number of web-only news sites, mainly concentrating on business news, such as,, and also has a dedicated news section.

Press freedom

Main articles: Censorship in the Republic of Ireland and Internet censorship in Ireland

Freedom of the press is enshrined in Ireland's constitution. The NGO group Reporters sans frontières named Ireland in joint first position in their "Press Freedom Index" in 2009.[13] In 2013 Ireland ranked 15th out of the 179 countries in the index.[14]

The Troubles in Northern Ireland led to some restrictions on press freedom, though these were primarily in the Republic. The 1960 Broadcasting Authority Act allowed the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to direct Radio Telefís Éireann "not to broadcast any matter, or any matter of any particular class". This was used between 1971 and 1994 to prevent broadcasts of supporters of violence on RTÉ. From 1977 to 1994, it also applied to Sinn Féin members.

See also


External links

  • "Broadcasting Legislation", Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources of the Irish Government.
  • "Publications", Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Includes information on the role of ComReg.
  • "Broadcasting Act 2009", an Act to revise the law relating to broadcasting services and content, to establish the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and to dissolve the Broadcasting Commission and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. 12 July 2009.
  • "Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007" (Repealed), dealing with Digital Terrestrial TV and digital switchover and regulation. 12 April 2007. An Act establishing the BAI and updating TV license legislation.
  • "Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 (Commencement) Order 2007", Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Government of Ireland.
  • "Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Multiplex Licence Conditions", Commission for Communications Regulation, August 2007.
  • "Response to Licensing Digital Terrestrial Television", Commission for Communications Regulation, Document 07/90, November 2007.
  • "License for Digital Terrestrial Television", Commission for Communications Regulation, Document 07/90a, November 2007.
  • "Technical Conditions for Digital Terrestrial Television", Commission for Communications Regulation, Document 07/90b, November 2007.
  • "ComReg published License framework for Digital Terrestrial Television", Commission for Communications Regulation, Document: PR09 1107, November 2007.
  • "DTT licences will cost operators €114k", by John Kennedy, Silicon Republic, 9 November 2007.
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