“The listening and viewing public have been at the core of the concerns of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) since its inception and the audience will remain key stakeholders for the Authority in the years to come”. That’s according to Bob Collins, Chairperson of the BAI, speaking at today’s launch of the BAI’s Strategy Statement at an event in the Authority’s headquarters that was attended by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD.
“We are launching the new Strategy Statement at a time when broadcasters and the role they play in public discourse in Ireland is the focus of particular attention. This is a debate that can and must continue as it has been the enduring standpoint of public policy and of the law that broadcasting plays an important role in enabling citizens and in supporting democracy,” Mr. Collins said.
“I particularly want to welcome Minister Rabbitte to this event and I know that, despite all the other demands on his time, broadcasting is an area that he is particularly interested in and I have no doubt that he will continue to make valuable contributions to the ongoing debate on these issues.
“It would be misleading to suggest that the Strategy Statement marks some sort of radical departure for the BAI. Rather, it seeks to build on the previous strategy and marks the next steps in the BAI’s evolution as a regulator.
“Recent years have seen enormous change in Ireland’s broadcasting sector. There has been a dramatic rise in the levels of external television content – as opposed to Irish-made content – available to audiences. There has also been a significant change in the ways in which people access content.
“Against the background of that rapidly changing media environment, the key challenge for the BAI is to remain relevant as a broadcasting regulator. In what ways can we achieve this? Crucially, by keeping ourselves informed and through partnerships with other organisations.
“The three-year workplan is a key document for the organisation as it gives practical effect to the goals and objectives expressed in the Strategy and it enables the BAI and stakeholders to track progress and to be held to account in terms of the programme of work delivery.
“A very significant body of work has been achieved by the BAI in the first four years of its existence. 2013 was a particularly busy year and one of significant achievement for the Authority. It was the final year covered by the BAI’s first strategy document and many projects were drawn to a successful conclusion. Most notable among these were the five-year review of funding for public service broadcasters; the introduction of a new Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs; the revision of the General and Children’s Commercial Communications Codes; and the introduction of the new Archiving Scheme.
“However, there is no room for complacency. The BAI must ensure that the fundamental interests and entitlements of the viewers and listeners are protected at all times. Working with broadcasters, we must also ensure that broadcasting properly reflects the nature and composition of our society and that the voices of those who are currently often under-represented, including women, are heard.
“The BAI must track and keep pace with change and position ourselves to be capable of maintaining our role as a guarantor of a diverse and vibrant broadcasting sector, whatever form that may take over the coming years.”