Patrick Costello, Green Party TD for Dublin South Central, today launched his new private member’s bill. The Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to reform the way RTÉ operates its archives to ensure greater accessibility for the general public.
Costello began, “RTÉ is Ireland’s national broadcaster and until 1998 it was the only Irish national TV station. The video and audio repository held by the institution is therefore our national video and audio archive. Compared to other national broadcasters, such as the BBC, the ability to access this archive is extremely prohibitive. This bill seeks to change this.”
“The current operation of the archives, from a public interest perspective is severely lacking. To access the archive for personal/academic use, an enquiry must be submitted to RTÉ. There is also no online searchable video database for users to browse. Such a database currently exists but it is only for internal RTÉ use.”
“By way of comparison in the UK, the BBC, has a fully searchable video database online. Its archive collection is fully deposited and viewable through the British Film Institute. Any citizen can visit the BFI and access this material. This should be replicated in Ireland. RTÉ will counter this comparison by citing that they receive public and private funding, but the reality of the situation is like the BBC they are a national broadcaster and have responsibilities to live up to which arise from this.”
Commenting on government efforts to reform this area he said, “Minister Catherine Martin has committed to supporting media in Ireland and agreed to implement the recommendations of the ‘Future of Media Commission’. The Minister is protecting public service broadcasting and supporting RTE then RTE need to play their part and be an actual public service.”
Concluding he remarked, “The archive is currently run in a manner similar to that of a private archive. Piecemeal videos from the ‘RTÉ archives’ webpage are better than nothing but are nowhere near approaching an open archive. BBC demonstrate best practice in this area and RTÉ should be following accordingly. This bill seeks to do just that.”