There needs to be a public record of how much state bodies and government departments spend on advertising
Reacting this afternoon to information she received under a Freedom of Information request in relation to the amount of money spent by Irish Water on advertising with Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan has called for a medium to be established where state bodies and government departments can document the amount of money they spend for advertising purposes and with whom.
MEP Boylan said:
“Today I received confirmation through a Freedom of Information request to Irish Water how much the utility has spent on advertisement costs with the national broadcaster, RTÉ. The figures released to me showed that the net cost of advertisement with RTE excluding VAT was €717,286 from the period of 2013-2015.
“This information, and any information of how much any state or semi state bodies and government departments spend on advertising, should be made available in the public domain without having to go through the convoluted process of submitting FOI requests.
“It is essential in the interest of transparency that state or semi state bodies and government departments either spending or receiving large sums of money in advertisement fees declare their interests to the public.
“The issue of transparency in the media is a key one for Ireland given that last year an examination conducted for the EU Commission on media pluralism and media freedom categorised state advertising in Ireland as high risk given the absence of easily accessible guidelines governing the allocation of state advertising to media outlets. This was further compounded by the absence of public record of how the state, as a whole, or how individual departments or state bodies, distribute advertising in practice.
“Earlier knowledge of the staggering amount of money spent by Irish Water on advertising with the national broadcaster might have raised different questions around the commentary on water chargers and the mass uprising of people to oppose the poll tax.
“The only question I am left asking after analysing this FOI request is a hypothetical one; would the Right2Water movement have gotten an easier ride from the media if it too had €717,286, or more, to spend on advertisement?" ENDS