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'Old style reporting is gone': MEPs call for Oireachtas TV-style channel for EU Parliament

LAST UPDATE | 7 minutes ago

MEPS MICK WALLACE and Clare Daly have called for the establishment of a new public service broadcast channel for European Parliament proceedings, arguing that Irish citizens do not understand what happens in the European Union (EU).

Launching the proposal to TDs and Senators at Leinster House today, Daly said that the “glaring deficit” of coverage on matters of the European Union is “quite simply shocking”.

Daly said there is a disconnect between Irish citizens and the European Union that isn’t seen in other member states, partly due to the fact Ireland is an Island on the periphery of the continent.

She also made the point that the institutions of the EU are “not really understood” in Ireland and said this is largely due to a lack of coverage in the media of EU affairs.

Daly said there is an information deficit in Irish media when it comes to the EU and said that this results in Irish citizens only having a limited knowledge of “critical issues involving billions of European taxpayers’ money”.

European Parliament TV

To tackle this, Daly and Wallace want to see a new public service broadcast channel established for European Parliament proceedings.

The Independent 4 Change MEPs have outlined that the content for a parliamentary TV channel is already produced by an in-house service in Brussels and Strasbourg, financed by the European Parliament’s budget.

They said all proceedings are already filmed, broadcast live and on-demand online and that an Irish public service broadcaster can make use of this content and ensure it reaches the Irish public. 

“There is clearly a huge gap in terms of information about what happens in the EU and the Parliament, and this is a huge problem given the fact that so many of our laws now originate in the EU,” Daly said. 

“This can be very easily resolved, we think, by the creation of a European Parliament TV channel, which could be done at a very low cost,” she said. 

“The Irish Broadcasting Act 2009 which created the Oireachtas TV channel, already explicitly specifies the proceedings of the EU institutions as something the broadcaster can provide coverage for,” she added. 

Oireachtas TV was launched in 2011 and now broadcasts 24 hours a day to Irish homes through Saorview, Sky, Virgin Media, eir Vision and Vodafone. It is also available to view online.

“Oireachtas TV began in 2011, and it has done a fantastic job in making the proceedings of the Dáil and the Seanad available to Irish citizens on terrestrial digital TV. It has fostered public knowledge of and engagement with politics, and brought our parliament closer to the electorate,” Daly said. 

She said that by comparison, “the proceedings of the Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg are hard to find”.

“The main portal is a complex and confusing website. The names of proceedings and parliamentary committees are obscure. Before they view anything, people must know what they are looking for. This favours insiders, but excludes the wider public,” she added. 

Wallace said the creation of a European Parliament TV channel would “promote political literacy and familiarity with the EU institutions”.

Speaking to TDs and Senators today, Daly stressed the importance of Oireachtas TV and said it really democratised the proceedings in the Houses of the Oireachtas. 

“It was brilliant. It brought the Dáil and the Seanad to the people. It’s been shocking for us to see the amount of people who actually watch it and the reason why they do is because we have moved away from proper media in Ireland a lot.

“That old style reporting is gone. It’s been replaced by opinion forming – media often give you their opinion on something, they don’t actually report. Oireachtas TV gives that,” she said. 

“And really all we are saying is we need something like that for the European Parliament,” she added.

Daly said that the current reorganisation of RTÉ is an opportunity to address this issue. 

She said the MEPs have reached out to the Minister for Media Catherine Martin to discuss the creation of such a channel, but said they have had no engagement yet from her.

With reporting from Jane Matthews.