Category: Election 2007

Media Convergence

YouTube logo, via YouTube home page.A superb piece by Gaby Wood in today’s Observer discusses one aspect of the convergence of media and illustrates another.

The piece itself, From the web to the White House, discusses how, with the advent of YouTube, the internet has become the key political battleground in the 2008 presidential election. Three short extracts from a long and interesting piece. First:

During the last presidential election, bloggers were the new digital phenomenon to contend with; now YouTube has taken precedence, and it has the potential for much more dramatic effect.

Given that we have just had an Irish general election in which candidates embraced blogging for the first time, perhaps we can look forward to the impact of YouTube in the next one, rather than in the one just past. (more…)

Perhaps next time

picture-1.pngFintan O’Toole makes a strong case in today’s Irish Times (sub req’d) that the leaders’ debates on RTÉ‘s Prime Time television programme the week before last (the debates are here and here) were crucial to the outcome of last week’s general election. He is not the only person to have said so; comments to this effect were on the lips of many commentators as the result began to become clear. It is a pity, therefore, that RTÉ did not agree to make the debates available online without restriction so that the video can be lawfully share and reused without infringing RTÉ’s copyright. They were asked to do, and thought about it, but eventually said no (even though Fianna Fáil, of all parties, urged them otherwise). If they had, then online discusson could have put claims like O’Toole’s into the context of clips from the debates. We could only benefit from a this kind of detailed discussion of the turning points of the debate. Imagine if the threads on,, and elsewhere could have been illustrated by such clips. Perhaps next time.

Vote, vote, vote

Article 16.2 of the Constitution provides

(i) All citizens, and
(ii) such other persons in the State as may be determined by law,
without distinction of sex who have reached the age of eighteen years who are not disqualified by law and comply with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.

The election will be run according to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 1992 (also here) (as amended). Polling stations will be open from 7.30 am to 10.30 pm.

I was thinking about an all-singing all-dancing multi-media extravangnza for this post (cute image, suitable music, YouTube clip, and so on). I would have begun with an oh-so clever introduction about how, after all the debates and the posters etc, it was now down to the business end, the most important part of the process, including a perfectly formed paragraph on the optimum usages of proportional representation by the single transferable vote. I was then going to segue into an aching paen about how the most important right in a democratic polity is the right to participate in the democratic process by voting, locating this in a detailed exegesis of relevant constitutional and statutory provisions (the above are the highlights). And I was going to end with a learned political science discourse on the nature and consequences of the vote for government formation. And it would all have been leavened with knowing quirky quotes about voting, references to pop culture, and thinly veiled political satire. And, the links, the links – it would have been very link heavy, even by the standards of some of my posts.

But in the end, sparing you the reading of these tortured thoughts, I decided to boil it all down to the three words in the title.

Vote, vote, vote!

Speech just wants to be free – IV

picture-1.pngThere has been an exciting development in my campaign (see my earlier posts: here, here and here) to persuade RTÉ to make the Prime Time leaders’ debates available online without restriction. I received the following letter from Fianna Fáil (for reasons of accuracy, I have retyped it as it came in (here’s the PDF), including the not uncommon mis-spelling of my name, which I will forgive as I welcome the rest of it!):

Dr. Eoin O’Neill
School of Law
Trinity College
Dublin 2

14th May 2007

Dear Dr. O’Neill,

I refer to your letter to An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, who has asked me to reply directly to you on his behalf.

Fianna Fáil would be in full agreement that the Leaders debate should be accessible to as wide an audience as possible. It is a crucial part of the General Election campaign and for many people plays a key role deciding their voting intentions.

We fully support your proposal and will make our views in this regard known to RTE.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Hickey
Special Advisor to An Taoiseach

It’s still not too late for the other party leaders to come on board or for RTÉ to change their minds. So, come on guys, how about it?

Bonus links: (i) Larry Lessig’s most recent post about his similar campaign in the US (which inspired mine); (ii) Wednesday’s Prime Time debate from RTÉ’s website; (iii) Thursday’s Prime Time debate from RTÉ’s website – the debates are available on their website, but is a pity we can’t legally share and reuse them online without fear of infringing RTÉ’s copyright.

Speech just wants to be free – III

picture-1.pngThere have been two developments today. First, I discovered that not only is there to be a debate between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny on Thursday night, there is also to be one among the leaders of the next four parties on Wednesday. From RTÉ’s website:

The RTÉ television debate among leaders of the smaller parties has been announced.

Labour, the Greens, the Progressive Democrats and Sinn Féin will debate their issues on RTÉ One at 9:30pm on 16 May.

Just in case it wasn’t clear, the logic of making the coverage of the Prime Time debate between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny on Thursday available to be shared and reused online applies equally to this debate on Wednesday. As a consequence, I emailed RTÉ making it clear that my request extended to both debates, and I wrote to the leaders of these parties (pdf here), asking for their support for this initiative.

Second, in a formal response from RTÉ to my initiative, early this afternon, Peter Feeney emailed me as follows:

Further to your request that RTÉ waives its copyright to the debates between the party leaders due to take place on Wednesday and Thursday RTÉ has decided not to agree to your request. We believe that by making the debates available on the web site anyone who wishes to analysis or review the debates is fully facilitated. The view has been taken that it would not be prudent for RTÉ to waive its rights to the migration of the debates to other sites.

This is, to say the least, disappointing. (more…)

Speech just wants to be free – II

picture-1.pngRTÉ were quick off the mark. Further to my letter to the Director General yesterday, mentioned in my previous post, RTÉ rang the Law School in Trinity where I work, to explain to me that all the Prime Time programmes are available on the RTÉ website and that this should answer my enquiry.

I should say at once that I think that it is a splendid website, especially since its recent revamp. Moreover, I am impressed with the amout of material that they make available online. However, I don’t think that this is a full answer. My concern is not so much with availability as with lawful sharing and reuse. (more…)

Speech just wants to be free

picture-1.pngOver the last few weeks, I have been tracking the fate of a call on Larry Lessig’s blog for the US political parties and television networks to eliminate unnecessary regulation of political speech by allowing unfettered online access to the recording of the parties’ debates among presidential candidates. First, Barak Obama came on board, next John Edwards and then Chris Dodd. Then CNN announced that it would make presidential debate footage available without restrictions (though Fox News has announced that it will not).

Following yesterday’s web debate comes the news that there will be a television debate between Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny on Prime Time on 17 May next. (more…)