Operation Multiculture

Dividends from diversity

Ethnic media catering for the 750,000 newcomers from about 211 countries which have come to Ireland since 2000 are really starting to take off. While discrepancies between official government figures and estimates by people working with immigrants vary greatly, people 'in the know' reckon there may be as many as 200,000 Poles in Ireland.

There could be 100,000 Lithuanians and 80,000 Nigerians here. While officially, 25,000 non-EU students are said to be in the country, the ICTU estimates that China alone accounts for up to 85,000 students.

Official CSO figures show that nine per cent of the workforce and ten per cent of the population are foreign-born. Publishers reacted quickest to the multi-ethnic in-flow but broadcasters are catching up.

Ireland's first multi-ethnic radio station, Sunrise 94.9FM, began broadcasting to a potential 300,000 audience in Dublin on St Patrick's Day after the BCI granted them a temporary licence.

Irfan Malik, managing director, Sunrise 94.9FM, said that over the 15-weekend stretch the station will air programmes in Polish, Russian, Chinese, African, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Indian and Pakistani from midnight each Friday until midnight on Sunday.

Dublin community station Anna Livia FM broadcasts weekly shows for African immigrants, Chinese, Korean and Russian. Its top ethnic programme is called Marhaba, covering topics from the eastern Mediterranean and the Lebanon, in Arabic, Greek and Spanish.

City Channel targets Poles with its Oto Polska Extra shown several times a week. Hosted by Izabela Chudzicka, 25, a native of Zabkowice Slaskie in the south of Poland, she works in marketing for Renards.

The producers of Oto Polska Extra combine local news about Poles resident in Ireland with a current affairs programme from Poland, which could be dubbed the country's answer to Primetime on RTE 1.

When, come May, City Channel extends to Galway and Waterford, Polish programming will feature there too and the channel is considering doing programming for the local Chinese and other Asian communities.

Metro Eireann is Ireland's longest-established multicultural publication. Launched six years ago by editor and owner Chinedu Onyejelem, the tabloid paper targets the wider immigrant community.

A typical edition would include a pull-out supplement on Sri Lanka, coverage on eastern Europe and Palestinian news. There is a regular page in French for immigrants from French-speaking African countries. Contributors include Roddy Doyle, Fintan O'Toole and Ronit Lentin.

Marketing manager Patrick Clowry said issues of Metro Eireann normally range from 24 to 36 pages, with a run of 15,000 copies. The cover price is €1, but many copies end up being handed out free.

Aside from establishing credibility with immigrant communities through editorial, Metro Eireann also attracts such national advertisers as AIB, Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus, Eircom and O2. So too do Dublin's universities and colleges. A large number of government department notices find their way into the paper too, giving details of legislative changes impinging on foreign nationals.

In contrast, Xclusive is a newcomer to the publishing ranks. It is a glossy equivalent for the African community of Hello! and OK! with entertainment and celebrity news and lifestyle features.

Publisher Peter Anny-Nzekwue said Xclusive has a run of 8,000 and while it appeals primarily to Africans in Ireland, he hopes that it can prove popular with other immigrants and Irish readers too.

Sergey Tarutin launched Russian Gazeta almost five years ago. A weekly tabloid its cover boasts “the first and leading Russian newspaper in Ireland”. Tarutin said there has been a sea change among advertisers. Gazeta has always had support from the likes of Western Union, which handles money transfers. Aer Lingus, Bank of Ireland and O2 have since come on board. The Bank of Ireland advertises in Russian.

Two years ago Tarutin started Lietuvis, a 5,000-circulation weekly tabloid aimed at the Lithuanian community. In June 2004, he launched the tabloid Polska Gazeta. He does a Russian yellow pages for Ireland and Britain and his latest venture is a tabloid for Latvia's ex-pats.

Late last year, Tiao Wang (“looking forward with vision”) was launched for the estimated 135,000 Chinese people living in Ireland. With about 50 colour pages per issue, its advertisers include Bord na gCon, extolling the virtues of going to the dogs in Chinese.

Niall Kehoe, managing director, Ethnic Media, said Tiao Wang is edited in Dublin by Helen Yang. Pre-press is done in China and each edition is then emailed back to Ireland for printing. Advertisers include Permanent TSB, Irishjobs.ie, Fetac and the Equality Authority.

Last November, the Evening Herald became the first national title to cater specifically for immigrants in their own language by launching the Polski Herald, an eight-page supplement each Friday.

Most of the copy is generated in the Herald offices by English and Polish speakers. The Limerick Leader is the only regional paper to cater for immigrants. Its weekend edition includes a page with news in Chinese, Polish and Russian and reports in English from South Africa.

Ireland is a changed place

Cultural diversity continues to broaden ensuring the ongoing success of our economy and vibrancy of our society. It also provides major challenges in changing to an inclusive, intercultural environment in which immigrants feel welcome and wanted.

One major problem is communicating with a diverse population not only in terms of nationality, but religion as well. Between 1991 and 2003 the number of Muslims quadrupled to 19,000, mostly due to inward migration, while Travellers make up one of the biggest minority groups, estimated at around 27,000.

From a marketing perspective, we are waking up to the value of the non-Irish as a lucrative market for goods and services. As one expert said: “The non-Irish community buy everything the Irish do, the only thing they don't do is stay in hotels”

While the new population provides a platform for our continued economic success, there is a problem in measuring the size of the market. New information is available from the CSO through the Quarterly Household Survey (QHS).

The QHS shows the non-Irish continues to grow, particularly from the new accession states. But the CSO data is qualified. The concerns centre on the extent to which the survey captures minority communities in a proportionate and representative manner.

The number of non-Irish nationals increased by 48.2 thousand year on year, with the biggest inflow from the new EU states up by 38.4 thousand, mostly from Poland, Latvia and the Czech Republic. The figures will be reviewed in this year's Census.

Ireland has a non-Irish adult population of 253,000, or eight per cent. The problem is other sources put it as high as ten per cent, or more and growing fast. There are difficulties in measuring part of the population that is tied into a shifting labour force.

Measuring them is one thing, reaching and communicating is quite another. The ethnic population is diverse both physically and culturally. They come from afar, from China, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Different people, different languages.

They cluster in their own groups in various parts of the country, in Dublin north of the Liffey for example. Ireland is a country where the media is targeted solely at the native population, so reaching them by conventional means is not easy.

There are publications for individual nationalities and radio in one or two cases. The difficulty is all the ethnic media combined would not deliver sufficient coverage to justify significant ad investment. Most are in the individual native language giving rise to the difficulties of communicating in languages like Chinese.

One company that has targeted the ethnic population from the start is Western Union. WU quickly recognised the opportunity and advertised in the first issue of Metro Eireann, Ireland's first and only multicultural newspaper.

They also targeted areas of ethnic concentration by using all forms of outdoor and transport advertising, as well as post offices and internet shops. The problem of measuring and reaching the non Irish population is a big one.

There is evidence that we are taking the task seriously, with, for instance, the next Census forms being issued in 11 or more languages, a step in the right direction.

The 'new Irish' are a group more advertisers are trying to target and the growth in ethnic media has made this task easier. But if planners neglect the more indigenous mass media, they run the risk of missing out on large numbers of the ethnic audience.

The traditional mass media of outdoor, TV, cinema and radio must not be ignored when trying to reach non-nationals. Many of the new Irish are skilled workers in the high tech, medical and educational fields, who may be living in Ireland for years.

They speak fluent English and are exposed to billboards, bus posters, music shows and soaps as much as any native Irish and can be reached through these media. But sectors such as financial, telco, education, recruitment and travel are exclusively focusing on specific nationalities and are using the ethnic media to do so.

In particular, ad campaigns translated into the relevant language make it crystal clear who is being targeted and complex messages can be clearly communicated. Up to now, few broadcast media have catered specifically for ethnic minorities in Ireland.

City Channel's Oto Polska programme, RTE's Mono and some regional radio stations' foreign language programmes are the most notable exceptions. Sunrise FM, Ireland's first multi-ethnic radio station began broadcasting on St Patrick's Day this year and airs each weekend in at least ten different languages.

The print media have excelled in catering for the 'new Irish' and there are now several titles available, often nationwide, in languages ranging from Polish to Mandarin, Russian to Lithuanian. The newspapers are typically weekly tabloids while the magazines are mostly high quality glossies.

Many of the publications also helpfully provide a free translation/ proof-reading service to lighten the load of copywriters. But translation is one area where caution is needed. Rumour has it that Chevrolet were puzzled by poor sales of the Nova in South America, until it was pointed out that 'no va' in Spanish means 'won't go'.

Titles such as the Polska Herald and the Limerick Leader have also recognised that multilingual pages are not only circulation boosting but generate a revenue stream that may not otherwise exist, while catering for niche audiences fast growing in numbers.

Vive la diff

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