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Politicians must demonstrate "backbone" and tackle concentration of media ownership in Ireland

24 October, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has stated that politicians must demonstrate the backbone necessary to deal with the concentration of media ownership in Ireland.

She called on Communications Minister Denis Naughten to take steps to establish the multi-disciplinary commission of inquiry to look at the media landscape in Ireland as called for by the NUJ. 

Boylan made the comments as she launched a comprehensive legal report on the issue in Dublin today.

She said;

"This report has found that we have one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy, with the two most controlling entities being the national state broadcaster, RTÉ and one individual business in the private sphere.

"This individual enjoys a dominant position in the print sector and a significant position in the commercial radio sector.

"New media merger guidelines, introduced by the Irish Government in 2014, copper-fastened the majority hold of the individual with the largest percentage of private media while simultaneously setting up new thresholds and barriers for anyone seeking to challenge his position.

"The individual in question is a 'serial litigator' who, since 2010 has taken out 12 cases against media organisations alone.

"However, it is not just media outlets who are afraid. Politicians seem to balk at the thought of effectively dealing with the issue. It is not acceptable for politicians to hide behind property rights contained in the constitution. It is the responsibility of public representatives to balance these property rights with constitutional rights regarding expression and freedom of the organs of public expression.

"An open and diverse media is crucial to the health of any democracy. We need a media that holds those in powerful positions to account, one that seeks the truth and ensures that the public has access to the truth.

"An EU funded report published by the European Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom in March found that Ireland is in the 'high risk' category for concentration of media ownership.

"It is time for Minister Denis Naughten to seize the opportunity, following on from this report, to address the thorny issue of media ownership in Ireland.

"I believe that it is now time to establish the multi-disciplinary commission of inquiry to look at the media landscape in Ireland as called for by the NUJ.

"The Minister and all politicians must now show the political backbone required to take on those in dominant positions."

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