Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Transport Eamon Ryan has ruled out the implementation of quotas for Irish produced music on national radio, citing an incompatibility with EU law as the rationale.

In response to a parliamentary question raised by Labour TD Duncan Smith, Ryan responded that by implementing such a quota, it would “restrict the free movement of services by placing music meeting certain criteria in a more advantaged position”. As stated within the Irish Examiner, Ryan has been quoted as saying that while he was “supportive of the promotion of Irish music”, other factors must be taken into consideration. 

This rejection comes as a further hit to Irish musicians, as with the current COVID-19 Pandemic, they still struggle to grow a platform due to the inability to organise shows and gigs as a means of gaining exposure. The Irish Music Rights Organisation has commented on the importance of airplay, with their website stating “It has been well understood that consistent commercial airplay accompanies significant music sales, generates public performance royalties, and burnishes a recording artist’s profile.”

The proposed quota of national music on national radios is not a novel concept, with such an approach being followed in other European countries such as France. With regards to France, there is a law which mandates that 40% of all music played on French radio must be from French musicians. A distinction was drawn between the case in France and Ireland, as the French law can be seen as an attempt to conserve the national language. Ryan has been noted as saying “the preservation and promotion of an official language of a Member State constitutes a general interest objective” and that “unlike music in a particular language, a quota system for music produced in a particular place, as suggested in this question, does not appear to have grounds for exemption from the general requirements of EU law.”

Currently, every one in six songs played on Irish Radio comes from an Irish artists, which amounts to less than 15% of all music played to be of Irish origins. This results in the majority of exposure and airplay being afforded to international acts in place of their Irish counterparts. 

A bill proposed by Labour Westmeath TD Willie Penrose calling for a 40% quota of Irish music on Irish Radios was defeated in Dáil Eireann in 2016.

Adam Doyle – Reporter