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TV3 And The Irish Language – Beyond The Pale?

Apparently the independent (British-owned) Irish television broadcaster TV3 is still humming and hawing about continuing the practice of broadcasting the All-Ireland Minor Hurling and Football Championships in the Irish language, after winning the GAA contract away from RTÉ earlier this year.

A previous attempt by RTÉ to include English language analysis to supplement their Irish language commentaries proved hugely unpopular but TV3 seems intent on bilingual coverage of the games at best – or a mere token use of the national language at worse.

Of course the TV3 Group, which controls TV3 and 3e (TV3’s squalid television stable-mate), is a purely commercial enterprise the primary aim of which is to make money out of Ireland’s TV viewers and whose broadcasting market is centred solely on Ireland’s English language community, and the east coast Anglophone community in particular. The channel, which regularly carries simultaneous broadcasts with TV networks in Britain, has become synonymous with British TV programming in Ireland, leading to the not unfair characterization of the network as the Irish ‘regional’ branch of the British television network ITV (which also controls the northern-based UTV) and the rather fetching acronym of TVWB (TVWestBrit). Without TV3 and 3e Ireland’s television viewers would have missed out on such quality gems as Banged Up Brits Abroad, Britain’s Got Talent, The British SOAP Awards, and other programmes prominently featuring the words Britain and British.

Of course all this is perfectly in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Broadcasting Act of 2009, under which the TV3 Group is licensed, a piece of legislation so singularly lacking in culture standards to be fulfilled by independent television or radio broadcasters that it could well qualify as a Rupert Murdoch wet dream. In contrast to other bilingual (and multilingual) nations across Europe, in Ireland there are no minimal language broadcast requirements placed upon independent broadcasters. No percentages, no between hours, nothing. Nor are there regulations ensuring that licensed broadcasters here reflect the broad cultural diversity of the nation.

It would seem that for TV3 the 42% of the population that identify themselves as Irish speakers truly do live beyond the Pale. And don’t expect that to change any time soon.

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