‘Staunchly monolingual’ Irish Government should follow S4C’s funding example says TG4 Director General
The Director General of Irish language broadcaster TG4 has strongly criticised the Irish Government for the lack of financial support it offers the broadcaster compared to the money received by S4C in Wales.
Alan Esslemont said that the channel’s aim was to win an Academy Awards for an Irish language film – but that the lack of budget was the major barrier to that.
He told The Journal : “There’s a lot of lip service, or in Irish ‘béal grá’, paid to the Irish language. But when it really matters I feel that the Irish State is staunchly monolingual. It’s almost as if someone at the very top of the Department of Finance or DPER has run a cost-benefit analysis and decided that the Irish language fails.”
He added that the situation in Wales “couldn’t be more different” where the station is “very strongly supported by the State”.
In January the UK Government’s Culture Secretary announced an extra £7.5 million for S4C, but its long term future looks unclear after she also called for an end to the license fee that currently funds the service.
According to the UK Government, S4C’s settlement will consolidate S4C’s current £74.5m annual Licence Fee funding with its current £6.8m annual DCMS grant income.
TG4 meanwhile will receive €44.9m from the Irish exchequer in 2022, the equivalent of £37.7m.
Recently a number of Irish language films have been produced by Cine 4, a joint initiative by TG4, Screen Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
That includes the breakthrough movie An Cailín Ciúin which won the most awards at the the Irish Film and Television Academy and Awards earlier this month.
“TG4 does some really, really good programming but our producers have never been afforded that big stage of being able to go and do a drama feature film in Irish. Now that they are, they’re really standing up to the plate,” Alan Esslemont said.
“The moonshot vision that we had when we launched this several years ago was that one day we would achieve an international Oscar for an Irish language film.
“I didn’t set a timeline for that but the way that people have been willing to go to the cinema and watch Irish language films is part of what I see as the normalisation of the Irish language in Irish society.”
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