Media sectors unite to oppose extra advertising slots
IT'S NOT often you see the independent radio sector, RTE and most of the country's newspapers agree on anything but at last it seems they may have found a common cause.
Next Monday the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's (BAI) board will meet to decide whether or not to allow independent Irish television stations such as TV3 and Setanta to run an extra two minutes of advertising per hour and up to 33pc more ads or teleshopping per day.
The meeting follows a consultation process that began in June and ended earlier this month. During the consultation the BAI received 18 submissions from interested parties and the public. The rationale behind the proposal is clear enough. Currently Irish television stations can broadcast a maximum 10 minutes of ads per hour and advertising or teleshopping can take up no more than 15pc of a day's programming. British channels beaming into Ireland are allowed to broadcast 12 minutes of ads.
The BAI believes that, given the economic environment, independent stations are struggling and the best way to help them maintain their business is to allow them an extra two minutes worth of ads per hour and to allow up to 20pc advertising a day.
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) -- which represents independent radio stations and the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) -- which represents Irish national papers and Irish editions of British papers, are united in their opposition. RTE are also thought to be opposed.
"This proposal will create further distortions in the market for advertising and will give the independent broadcasters an unfair competitive advantage over newspapers. This proposal is a perfect example of the problems that can arise in the absence of a properly-structured national media policy where the knock-on effects of a proposal are not adequately considered," say the NNI. The IBI's chief executive, Scott Williams, is adamant that the proposal will cost jobs in the industry.
"There is no demand for the extra advertising minutes. Advertising and sponsorship are the sole source of income for independent broadcasters. If the extension for TV advertising goes through, radio will lose out. The proposal will create an inherently unfair playing pitch." Even though the BAI are supporting the proposal to increase advertising, the board's decision is not a fait accompli. Any decision however, will have long-term ramifications for the Irish media landscape either way.