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Religions and the media

Religious broadcasting

Since the establishment of Irish state broadcasting in radio (1926) and television (1960) the importance of the mass media has been recognised by all of Ireland’s major religious groups. Though (...)

Since the establishment of Irish state broadcasting in radio (1926) and television (1960) the importance of the mass media has been recognised by all of Ireland’s major religious groups. Though initially governed by an attitude of suspicion more concerned with censoring "immoral" content in cinema and television, the strategic value of the mass media as vehicles for the promotion of religion was also recognised early on - particularly by the Catholic Church. In 1932 state radio provided extensive coverage of the International Eucharist Congress held in Dublin that year - an example of religious broadcasting which was followed by the regular broadcasting of Catholic Mass every Sunday (since 1948) and the embedding of the Catholic Angelus into the radio schedule (since 1960). Today these are still broadcast on the flagship state radio channel (RTE1), with the occasional radio broadcast of Protestant religious services. However, these broadcasts have recently been demoted by being made available on medium wave transmissions rather than FM radio. The Angelus, however, persists across all wavebands as well as on the main state television channel (RTE1) at six o’clock.

D 21 September 2012    ASeán L’Estrange

Catholic media

In response to the challenge of televisual media in particular, the Irish Catholic Church established its own media production unit operating under the auspices of the Catholic Communications (...)

In response to the challenge of televisual media in particular, the Irish Catholic Church established its own media production unit operating under the auspices of the Catholic Communications Institute (est. 1969). Today, in the form of the Kairos Communications media production and training company, a variety of programming is provided according to a broad Christian agenda as opposed to a narrowly ecclesiastical one. This includes the production of a short "Prayer at Bedtime" programme broadcast nightly by the main state television channel, and occasional documentaries centred on the developing world in which Catholic missions are active.

With respect to "old" media, the Catholic Church has a number of publishing houses and retail outlets, the most prominent being Veritas - first established in 1928 as the commercial wing of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland (1900-69) which was subsequently absorbed into the Catholic Communications Institute. Veritas publishes a wide variety of popular religious literature, with more scholarly work of religious interest published by the Columba Press and the Four Courts Press. With respect to the Press, the Irish Catholic weekly newspaper (est. 1888) - though not owned by the Church - functions as the leading newspaper for comment and coverage of Catholic religious affairs.

D 21 September 2012    ASeán L’Estrange

The dominant position of the Catholic Church

Protestantism has a far lower media profile than Catholicism within the Republic of Ireland. This is offset somewhat by its relative strength within Northern Ireland and by the availability of (...)

Protestantism has a far lower media profile than Catholicism within the Republic of Ireland. This is offset somewhat by its relative strength within Northern Ireland and by the availability of British state broadcasting within most of the island. However, with respect to the presence or otherwise of clergy in media debates and the arena of public discourse, Catholicism still occupies a dominant position, with Church representatives frequently invited to contribute on issues and topics considered to be the special preserve of the Church or where Church interests are directly implicated. Education, health and charitable ventures are prominent amongst these, including recent debates over immigration in response to which the Church has been particularly active. Non-christian media presence is virtually non-existent, though it is possible that this will change as numbers of Muslim migrants increase, and that even the "old" Western Christian profile will change in response to increased numbers of new evangelical Protestants and Eastern Orthodox migrants. However, the experience of older small communities of Chinese and Jewish, and their conspicuous lack of any media presence, suggests that the pluralisation of religious representation and participation in media may be slow in coming.

D 21 September 2012    ASeán L’Estrange

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