Government should investigate threat posed to diversity over INM's new acquisitions – Boylan
Speaking this morning Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has called for the government to investigate whether the purchase of seven regional titles by Independent News & Media (INM) poses a threat to plurality and diversity in the Irish media.
MEP Boylan said:
“According to a recent report by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), INM, when considered from a “single media” point of view, holds 45% of the share of the national newspaper circulation. They also hold a 22% share of the radio market, and of on desk-top usage of Irish on-line news sources, 43% is to web-sites for INM/Communicorp owned outlets.
“Therefore, there is no doubt in my mind that this new venture by INM to acquire seven regional titles, that include some very recognisable newspapers such as the Anglo-Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph in Mayo, will further narrow the base of media ownership in Ireland.
“This further accumulation of private power in the media sector through these acquisitions by INM, of which Denis O’Brien is the largest shareholder, will, I believe, have an impact on the public realm of democracy, plurality of voices and diversity in the media.
“While the deal will have to be cleared by both the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Minister for Communications before it can fully go through, I would urge the Minister not just to look at this deal in isolation, but to look at the issue of plurality and diversity in the media sector as a whole.
“The National Union of Journalists have also said that they are “gravely concerned” about these developments and have also called for “the Minister for Communications to use his powers to order a comprehensive review of INM's influence, direct and indirect, on the media market across all platforms in this country”.
“Earlier this year, a report for the European Commission in relation to media ownership in Ireland, deemed that the country is exposed to a “high risk” over its concentration of media ownership. If continuous reports, from both at home and abroad, point to problems around media ownership and transparency in Ireland, then there must be an investigation into these problems and how they can be addressed.
“Therefore, I would urge the government, and all political parties, to support and push for a commission to investigate media ownership and transparency in Ireland, and to make it a priority.”