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Belfast, 8 June 2005

EU approves Irish language broadcast fund for Northern Ireland


The European Commission has authorised public funding for the Irish Language Broadcast Fund in Northern Ireland under EC Treaty state aid rules. The overall amount will be £12 million (€17.7 million) for the period 2005 – 2009. The objective of the Fund is to support the production of television and film output in the Irish language. The Commission considers that since the aid aims to promote cultural products and the Irish Language, it can be authorised under EC Treaty rules that allow state aids for the promotion of culture.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The Fund fosters broadcasts for Irish language speakers and I am happy to approve state aid which promotes cultural and regional identity.”

The newly established Fund’s objective is to promote, develop and support the Irish language in Northern Ireland through the production and broadcasting of television and film output. To qualify for funding, a minimum of 60% of the spoken word within the production must be in Irish and every production must be subtitled in English. The product must be of artistic quality and should be capable of being delivered by present and developing delivery platforms – including analogue, digital, online and interactive platforms. It further should reach a substantial audience in Northern Ireland. Aid beneficiaries will be independent, audiovisual production companies and, in exceptional cases, broadcasters.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 contains a commitment to “seek more effective ways to encourage and provide financial support for Irish language film and television production in Northern Ireland.” The Joint Declaration in April 2003 stated that the UK Government would establish an Irish language Film & Television Production Fund.

The Fund, administered by the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, meets the criteria for aid to be compatible under state aid rules set out in the Commission’s Communication on “certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works”. Aid to promote culture may be authorised where such aid does not unduly distort competition, according to EC Treaty state aid rules.

For further information contact Eddie McVeigh Tel: 028 9024 0708 or Mobile 07747 142400

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30 November 2005 12:18:44