The Next Leap

COMPETITIVE IRELAND IN THE DIGITAL ERA

Options for Government action

with 5 comments

Stakeholders active in this area observed that a holistic approach that reflected the convergence of media was lacking among the various state entities with which they liaised. The convergence of technologies and media platforms that is currently underway presents Government with an opportunity to rationalise Ireland’s framework of institutions active in various media and arts. As technologies and media converge, so too might relevant State entities. This would consolidate State resources, and at the same time would reflect the realities of media convergence and provide a one-stop-shop with which content producers could work. A temporary stakeholders group could be established to consider the convergence of existing cultural and media bodies into a single unified Irish Creative Media Board. The Creative Media Board could be drawn from an expanded Irish Film Board, fused with other bodies such as the Arts Council. It would provide a one stop shop to creators of all media, irrespective of platform and format. The Irish Creative Media Board would work under the lead unit mentioned above to enable Ireland to leverage its artistic heritage globally, in creative and lucrative niches.

The temporary stakeholders group could also consider the establishment of a lead unit to drive a strategic approach to Irish Digital Media. The lead unit could be established within the strategic digital department (proposed in the conclusion, below) and would be responsible for the digital media strand of the national digital strategy. This unit would cooperate with and lead relevant parts of other State agencies and bodies to provide a whole of government approach. This unit could, for example, undertake some functions currently within the remit of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and would play an important role in driving Ireland’s global profile and success in digital media content across all platforms.

Government, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, could consider what functions RTE might fulfil as the relevance of conventional TV declines. One opportunity is for RTE to embrace a new role as public service broadcaster responsible for pushing radical new services and content, with an emphasis on supporting and developing Irish creative content across all platforms, from script writing to gaming. Specifically, it could provide capital and expertise to support content producers across Ireland, including local community developed content. There could be useful synergies with the proposals on regional enterprise in trend 2, above. Channel 4’s new “4IP” investment fund, which that broadcaster views as its entry to the post-broadcasting world, is a useful model to build and expand upon. By embracing change in advance, as Channel 4 is doing, RTE can be an important force for social inclusion in the regions and an incubator of Irish cultural activity, while at the same time assisting in the propagation of digital media literacy. RTE has already taken a step in this direction by buying “Aisling’s Diary”, the Irish version of the Bebo.com internet show “Sophia’s Diary”. In addition, RTE could now re-calibrate its relationship with independent producers and consider whether to allow them to retain copyright of their ideas as a means to encourage a vibrant content market.
Finally, it will be important to consider incentives to promote the development of digital media content in Ireland. The artists’ tax exemption has been a valuable tool to incentivise Irish cultural output. At present the exemption applies to writing, theatre, musical composition, painting or other like pictures and sculpture. Ireland could capitalise on the convergence of creative content by extending or duplicating this exemption to new media content. A taskforce could consider a definition to govern the extent of this exemption, and determine the extent to which it might enable Ireland to become a global leader in this promising new area. Relevant for further examination is the derogation in the EU treaties for cultural and audio visual services, exceptions to the European Commission’s usual prohibitions against state aids in the economic development of deprived areas, and in aid to promote culture and heritage conservation, and additional exemptions relevant to training aid. This relates to the “digital ISFC” proposal, in trend 2, above.

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Written by johnnyryan

13/12/2008 at 01:49

5 Responses

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  1. Neil Leyden wrote a piece on the idea of a digital IFSC for Enterprise Ireland whiich is worth reading – http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/NR/rdonlyres/D542C34C-2817-41F4-A915-70D8A70647E9/0/Howtocleanuponcontent.pdf

    johnnyryan

    18/12/2008 at 21:45

  2. Here we part company somewhat. I cannot really comment on RTE, but have doubts. But the idea of a super-unified Creative Arts body I do not believe in at all. The various groups in that sector already do not work together well. A new quango will not change this. Maybe when the world has changed further, in ten years. But surely better inter-working can do?

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:12

  3. This point was prompted by input from a number of respondents that they were unable to approach certain bodies for assistance because of their narrow constraints on format and content.

    johnnyryan

    18/12/2008 at 23:15

  4. OK, I get the problem. But I’m afraid I just do not believe these bodies *can* combine, and if they did try, I fear a new super-quango with the worst traits of all the others. But I do understand the problem, every business player who wants to innovate has hit it.

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:18

  5. I’d be interested to see a discussion on the first proposal but do not see it as a useful, or even as yet necessary step. It would, mind you, be good to cut the clutter of State-supported bodies, but the ones mentioned are rather radically different from each other. The second proposal, for a sort of steering group, sounds more practical, and could replace the first, if such a group were outside any government entity. I think we probably could use some small and fast-moving group to better drive and “sell” our media capabilities. As said elsewhere, we have certainly, from remote past through 19th and 20th centuries, to today, done well in media and arts, and every asset we have can be treated in so many more ways today. Every film, TV series, book can spawn so much else.

    On the idea for RTE, it sounds interesting but would involve a huge transformation of an old and rather settled organisation. Granted, RTE has become more flexible, and has learnt to work with the indepdendent sector more (albeit many are former colleagues), still, I am unsure. RTE was never very like C4. Then again, why not try, but with one unit, and limited funding and a firm timescale.

    While a good busines idea will be pursued with or without incentives – if it is really valuable, it must be profitable without same – but I do like the idea of “modernising” the tax concession for creative artists, with a suitable cap, etc., and it might just make the difference for some people to take a chance on going into something new but initially marginal. Well spotted by someone on the opening in EU law.

    J Doyle

    20/12/2008 at 11:53


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