For about 40 years, RTE's radio and television channels have played an enormous role in shaping Irish social and cultural life. As the national publicly owned and funded broadcaster, RTE is the biggest cinema, school, sports stadium, market square, performance stage, town crier and concert hall in Ireland. It sets the agenda for the national conversation that drives modern Ireland. This work is a study of the structural transformations now taking place in Irish broadcasting. The book will focus on the broadcasting section generally, but primarily on RTE, as it adjusts to a number of radical changes in the field of forces whose impact began to accelerate in the mid-1990s. The book will take the form of a critical history of the present and an investigation of the future of broadcasting in Ireland. Its analytical framework will be situated within the broader context of contemporary European media policy and trends in the global structure of the cultural industries as they adjust to the deployment of digital compression technology, increasing conglomeration in the media industry worldwide and new regulatory regimes profoundly influenced by the ideology of market liberalism. RTE's work is frequently shrouded in secrecy and mystique, which means that conspiracy theories abound about how it is governed and how it relates to various power centres in Irish life. This book is firmly aimed at increasing the transparency that should characterise public broadcasting and demystifying this national institution that plays such an enormous role in the cultural and political life of Ireland. There is a huge appetite for such a book because of the general high level of curiosity about the institutional life of the national broadcaster and because no seriously analytical book on RTE has appeared on the market for over twenty years.
Farrell Corcoran is Professor of Communication at Dublin City University.