City Hall, Dublin, Tuesday 13 September 2016
Introduction and Thanks
I'd like to thank the founders of MediaCon Lesley O'Connor and Stephen McCormack for inviting me this morning.
You have pulled together a hugely impressive speaker list for this conference (I'm not including myself in that list!) so it is a pleasure to be here.
It's significant that delegates from over 20 countries are here to share their perspectives on the opportunities that exist for co-productions and other forms of cross border cooperation.
Ireland has a unique opportunity to capitalise on the opportunities that the ever changing media landscape offers - MediaCon's role in putting Ireland centre stage in the global entertainment industry has to be recognised.
Opportunities and Challenges
The Creative Industries are a very significant creator of employment in Ireland, both directly and indirectly. One of the specific benefits of this sector is that, as the basic infrastructure of broadband is being rolled out – these jobs can be carried out anywhere. As a rural politician, I am acutely aware of the changing nature of employment and population shift in this country, and I believe that our creative industries are one example of the type of employment that we can attract to our rural towns and villages.
I recognise the role I must play in facilitating this. As you know, my role as Minister for Communications involves the broadcasting sector, but also significantly the delivery of communication services. The National Broadband Plan is a top priority for me. Upon taking office I established the Mobile Reception and Broadband Taskforce specifically to deliver immediate solutions to the issues we have in Ireland with mobile phone coverage and broadband.
I want to deliver the infrastructure so that the necessary incentives are there for creative industries to set up their headquarters, not just in Dublin, but all over the country.
I realise the challenges that face the Broadcasting sector, from our Public Service Broadcasters right through to Independent and Community Stations.
I also recognise the importance of all broadcasters to the creative industries and, in particular, the strong connection between a well-funded broadcasting sector and a healthy, vibrant creative sector. I am therefore going to bring a memo to Cabinet over the next few weeks which will outline a suite of measures that can be taken over the short and medium term to improve the financial position of broadcasters in Ireland.
Ministerial responsibility for the creative industries is shared between two Ministers: my colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys and my Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
As a result, there is strong cooperation between our two Departments. There two areas that we are working on that will be of interest to you.
A major review of Ireland's creative sector will undertaken shortly by independent consultants. This will involve an important benchmarking exercise as well as a review of the sector's strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The review will include widespread consultation and the consultants will be expected to make recommendations for possible policy approaches by Government.
Secondly, the recent policy document for culture, Culture 2025 – Éire Ildánach - has been published by my colleague, Minister Humphries. It sets out a vision for what we describe as our cultural values and outlines the priority for action over the coming years. The voices of content creators will be heard loud and clear in the engagements that will take place on this document.
Once again I would like to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today, and I declare MediaCon 2016 officially open.