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Broadcasting Multiculturalism: Migrant Representation and Participation in Irish Radio

Katie Moylan

External Examiner: Professor John Downing, Southern Illinois University, USA
Date Awarded: 2009
Katie Moylan SEPR graduated thesis 2009


This thesis identifies and explores the ways in which Dublin’s migrant communities are represented by Irish public service broadcasting and community radio, considering both the representation of such communities and production of programming by them. Informed by approaches drawn from media and cultural studies, this research incorporates analyses of programme content, production practice and broadcast policy in relation to the Irish national broadcaster Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ) and Dublin community radio. Within an Irish national and cultural context posited as historically homogenous, the study sets out to address questions of how new migrants are represented in Irish radio and how radio in particular facilitates migrant community participation?

The thesis is comprised of five chapters together with an introduction and conclusion. Chapter one introduces the theoretical approaches and methodological practices underpinning this study, incorporating radio scholarship and analysis of production practice and drawing from theories of critical multiculturalism, transcultural production and the transnational public sphere. These theoretical frameworks are located alongside analysis of selected programme content and broadcast production practice in the public service broadcasting and community radio sectors. Chapter two foregrounds the ways in which ‘diversity’ continues to be framed in Irish and European public broadcasting policy contexts, providing scrutiny of informing broadcast policies at a moment of considerable change in definitions of both public service media and community radio at European policy levels. Taken together, chapters three, four and five serve as case studies in which unstructured interviews were conducted with radio practitioners working in programmes focused on representing diversity in both the community and public service sectors. These findings are combined with close readings of selected programme content, investigating strategies of delivery and articulation as well as production practices such as topic selection and the use of ‘experts’ on diversity to frame a programme item. Chapter three focuses on selected ‘multicultural’ radio programmes produced by RTÉ, providing a critical reading of the ways in which migrant communities are represented and framed. Chapter four examines how the institutional structures and strategies of selected Dublin community radio stations facilitate migrant-produced programmes, which provide broadcast spaces for migrant self-representation and articulation. Chapter five combines examination of production practice and of the licensing process in community broadcasting through analysis of the application process for a multicultural radio service and of selected output from temporary station Sunrise FM, which marketed itself as ‘Ireland’s first multiethnic station.’ The thesis includes an audio CD, both to support excerpts cited in the study and to document samples of current radio representations of ethnic and migrant communities.