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Concentration of media ownership a concern in Ireland according to EU monitor- Lynn Boylan MEP

31 March, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has commented on the results of an EU wide media pluralism monitor.

The report reflects the high level of media ownership concentration, which is a danger as no maximum media ownership thresholds are imposed.

Furthermore the report also indicates that minority groups are vastly under-represented within the mainstream media.

There are also concerns regarding the transparency of media ownership, there is a distinct lack of reliable data for market share by revenue and there is also evidence that suggests that some media owners have sought to influence editorial content.

Ms Boylan said:

“Before these results were officially published I wrote to Commissioner Oettinger asking what recommendations he would be issuing for Ireland on the back of these poor results.

GUE/NGL MEPS signed letter but I would urge my fellow Irish MEPs to give this issue their full attention. It's in the interests of a healthy democracy to have a free and open press.”

Ms Boylan continued:

“The monitor classifies Ireland as being at a high level of concern in the concentration of media ownership category.

There is a lack of regulation in this state to curb excessive media ownership. Ireland has guidelines rather than binding legislation on media concentration. An example cited by the report is that of Denis O’ Brien.

Mr O’Brien was allowed to become the largest shareholder (29.9%) of Independent News and Media, the biggest print newspaper group in the country representing 40% of all national newspaper sales.

"Communicorp, an entity of which he is a principal shareholder, enjoys a 24% share of the state's daily radio listenership (and 50% of Dublin's) and includes radio stations Newstalk, Today FM, 98FM, Spin 103.8, TXFM and Spin Southwest.

This means that one individual is in control of around 60% of news content across the state.”

Ms Boylan concluded, stating:

“While the concentration of media ownership is Ireland is undoubtedly of pressing concern, what is also troubling is the lack of representation of minority groups in the mainstream media. This is a situation that can be ameliorated and should be.”

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