Letters: RTÉ lyric fm

Dear Editor,

The more the Head of RTÉ lyric fm Aodán Ó Dubhghaill defends that station’s position on its broadcasting of Irish music in the last issue of the JMI, the more he exposes the weaknesses of his arguments. Five per cent of broadcasting time was being asked of the station for all Irish-composed music (as separate to Irish-performed music). This works out at 54 minutes a day, based on an 18 hour broadcasting day, or six and a quarter hours per week. In backing up his claim that the station does just that, by including Irish-performed music as a red herring in his statistic, he furnishes readers with a list of works by Irish composers broadcast since the beginning of the year on The lyric Concert. This list contains one 10-15 minute piece per week.

Allowing for the fact that there is other Irish music broadcast sporadically on other lyric fm programmes, this still leaves the station with, let’s say, 5 hours per week of Irish-composed music, in any style, to find.

The truth is that RTÉ lyric fm is broadcasting about 1 per cent of Irish-created content in its programming. Such figures would be deemed unacceptable for RTÉ television or the national theatre.

Mr Ó Dubhghaill claims that he has ‘not been contacted by anyone to increase the Irish-composed output on lyric since taking over as Head of the station, while acknowledging the fact that his predecessor was asked by Irish composers in several meetings to broadcast more music by Irish composers just months before he took up the post. In truth, composers had hoped that this message had been passed on to him internally and were allowing him time to settle in, before starting the process all over again.

He asks us to have a look at the recent ads for RTÉ lyric fm in defence of the station being accused of philistinism and infantalising the public. The text of the ad which filled the back page of the last JMI read:

Eye dee dee deedle eye
Eye die die dee-dee-dum
Doo Doo Doo Dooby Do
Da da da dum da dum…
and on in that that vein for 4 verses, culminating with the byline: ‘You hum it, we play it’.

The thrust of the attack on RTÉ lyric fm that Mr Ó Dubhghaill was responding to was that, like cultural institutions in Britain who are under incredible pressure from Government funding agencies to increase the numbers of visitors that come through their doors at any cost, RTÉ lyric fm likewise is falling under the same yoke.

There is no argument about the value of RTÉ lyric fm increasing its listenership – it’s only the imagined listener that RTÉ lyric fm has in its mind that is feeding this disagreement. Now that all this is out in the open, can we find a way forward? Can we convince the listeners here, and outside Ireland who pick up RTÉ lyric fm by chance, of the breadth of our amazing culture?

Roger Doyle
Bray, Co. Wicklow

Published on 1 July 2005

Roger Doyle is a Dublin-based Irish composer working in electronic music.

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