Editorial: Freefall

Public-service broadcasting is a vital two-way conduit for those seriously interested in music.

Public-service broadcasting is a vital two-way conduit for those seriously interested in music. We therefore lead this issue with an article by Michael Cronin on developments in RTÉ, the Irish national broadcaster.

Comparison may be odious, but the ready availability to us of the finest public broadcaster in the world – the BBC – is inescapable. The usual explanation for the quality and content of BBC’s radio output, in comparison with our own, is that it has more money. In fact, they would appear to have much more than that, at the very least a philosophic approach that is unapologetic about intelligent programming. The question we raise is: shouldn’t RTÉ be aspiring to reach that same plateau, and if not, why not?

There is a new energy at work in this old debate. The force driving the economy for the past few years has not merely been ‘construction’, ‘housing’, ‘pharmaceuticals’ or ‘American multinationals’, but rather real people, young Irish people in fact, the current generation who did not have to emigrate. The brain drain of the past, it can be happily said, has clearly ended. But what to do with all this brain power? With ten years of the Celtic Tiger under their belts, we have surely entered a period where this young, educated generation will be seriously asking the same question. What must regrettably be termed RTÉ’s intellectual freefall is well out of step with that.

Published on 1 November 2006

Toner Quinn is Editor of The Journal of Music. His website is https://tonerquinn.com/

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