The small but mighty island of Ireland offers a cost efficient model for states to replicate through its national government, commercial and independent television and film production sources a way to significantly advance their soft power diplomacy, business development and diaspora connection priorities in Washington DC and throughout the United States.
Learn from TODAY’S IRELAND – TV – How to connect with the US public and conquer hearts and minds in DC and across America through TV and film.
It took 40 years for Ireland to establish successful daily television programming in the United States. However, the steadily growing success of TODAY’S IRELAND television, a Washington DC channel and national program distribution platform that was launched on March 17, 2013 (St. Patrick’s Day), provides important lessons to EU nations & other countries seeking to harness the power of television, film and digital distribution of content to cost-efficiently access the US TV marketplace and connect with government and business influencers, internationally minded Americans and national diasporas across America.
BBC America’s distribution of British television and film programs, via the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network has been a hugely expensive and a limited profitable venture for the BBC; but it is one of the most successful extensions of British soft power diplomacy in the 21st century.
France (France # 24) and Germany (Deutsche Welle), through government subsidies, has each, on a limited scale, attempted to replicate that success formula, using the established, reputable, non-profit, public broadcast and professional distribution platforms of MHz Networks, its Worldview Channel and multiple digital distribution channels in the US market. However, the recent emergence of Today’s IRELAND TV in the Washington, DC and national television and film marketplace provides important lessons for EU nations that wish to be better understood in America and strengthen their bilateral relationships with the US.
TODAY’S IRELAND (TI) is a joint venture with MHz Networks on a much smaller scale than BBC America. However after nine months of DC and national daily broadcasting of professional news, current affairs, politics, business, tourism, education, cultural, drama, sports, entertainment and film programming through the MHz Networks, Worldview Channel and digital platform viewers in Washington DC and throughout the US, the new channel is gaining substantial traction with internationally minded Americans and the 39 million Anglo-Irish-American diaspora in the US.
All of TI’s program content is direct from government, commercial and independent television and film sources in Ireland (North and South) and is broadcast daily in English unedited, unfiltered and custom branded to MHz’s established national audience. Eleven TV broadcasters and film production sources from Ireland supply the current daily program content direct from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The TI operational model should appeal to the European Commission in Brussels and any Belgium, Italian, Spanish or Greek government, commercial or independent television and film broadcasting operations that have sizeable diaspora’s in the US and seek to advance their bilateral relationship with the US. The range of economic, political, trade, investment, education, cultural and sporting activities is greater in these EU countries than in Ireland; however, one only has to visit America or experience Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US to see how the Irish government has worked smart as well as hard in advancing the mutually beneficial and ethic driven Irish -American bilateral relationship in launching Today’s IRELAND at this moment in its history.
The one obvious area where most European nations may appear to lose out to the BBC – and it is an advantage that little Ireland shares with the far larger United Kingdom – is that they broadcast in English; And in the instance of the Republic of Ireland, also in Gaelic (native program content is sub-titled in English for US viewers).
However, as MHz’s other government broadcasters over the past 20 years have included China, Russia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Germany, France, Middle East nations, Ethiopia and now Ireland, there is a large established DC and national American audience that is attracted to quality television and film broadcasting from foreign nations and English sub-titling seems less & less to be any problem for American television or film viewers.
Since its March 2013 launch with the public (but non-financial) support of the British and Irish governments, the US public and Irish American interest in, and demand for, additional daily programming on Today’s IRELAND for distribution in the DC metro market and across the US is growing.
TI is dedicated to ‘Broadcasting Beyond Borders’ and it was an official media sponsor of the May 2013 – US Department of State Global Diaspora Forum and supplemented its regular national programming by broadcasting six hours of telecasts from Washington DC, Dublin and Los Angeles, involving conference participants in Ireland and the US.
In addition, the channel broadcast eighteen (18) hours of the cultural, performing arts and musical highlights of ‘The Fleadh’ Ireland’s largest annual gathering of its most talented young, experienced and internationally known artists during the July/August celebration –Derry – Londonderry – 2013 – UK City of Culture. That program received widespread acclaim across the United States.
Although news, current affairs, politics, business and tourism programs are a magnet for TODAY’S IRELAND – TV American viewers there is substantial interest in drama, cultural, arts, entertainment, sports and educational content from MHz’s established DC and national audience and the Irish-American diaspora. To meet public demand MHz Networks is substantially expanding its current broadcasting distribution in New York and Los Angeles and will make Today’s IRELAND programming available to those audiences. It augurs well for the controlled 2014 regional and national expansion for TODAY’S IRELAND – TV in the US.
However, it is sobering and incomprehensible that the entire archives of continental European television and film produced by EU nations to professional standards, over the past 40 years, has never been seen by the vast majority of those in the EU community or the United States. In brief, Europe is television and film content rich and distribution destitute, beyond their own borders. This is a tragic waste of European money, talent, time, education and resources at a time where it has global communications capability.
Here is the real value and lesson of the TI experiment in the US for the EU. Just because the Irish nation is in a severe recessionary cycle, the Irish did not sit back passively. Instead, they did in 2013 what everyone said could or should not be done: They set up a broadcasting operation to tell the United States and the world that 21st century Ireland was on a firm foundation for fiscal recovery and long term success, open for business, investment, trade, tourism and sustained economic growth. And it is working.
Due to the establishment of TI over the past nine months Ireland now has a added powerful conduit to better connect with the US government and business leaders, the American public and the large Irish-American diaspora in the US to strengthen the important US-Ireland bilateral relationship.
As the Irish say to their fellow EU member nations, “Nothing succeeds like success!”
Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff