Further Monopolisation of Ireland's Media Market is Untenable – Stanley
Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Communications Brian Stanley challenged Minister Denis Naughten to prevent the further monopolisation of Ireland’s media market by INM.
Deputy Stanley stated:
“Members in this House are very aware of the damaging effects of the lack of media plurality and that this is having an effect on our democracy. A threat of legal action is hanging over this House at present. The situation is untenable if the purchase of Celtic Media Group by Independent News & Media is allowed to go ahead unchecked, thus adding more regional newspapers to its empire. The Anglo Celt, the Meath Chronicle, the Connaught Telegraph, the Offaly Independent, the Westmeath Examiner, the Westmeath Independent, and the Dublin People would be added to Denis O'Brien’s already vast media empire.
“A European Parliament report was published on the concentration of media ownership in this country. It described Ireland as having ‘one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy’. A report published by KRW Law and Doughty Street Chambers and commissioned by my party colleague, Ms Lynn Boylan MEP, identified two main controlling entities; RTE, the State broadcaster, and the individual businessman, Mr. Denis O'Brien.
“A diverse media which represents a broad spectrum of opinion is crucial to a functioning democracy.
“The issue of Independent News and Media purchasing the Celtic Media Group is one of the most serious issues facing democracy and the media at this time. I am concerned about whether the Government is taking it seriously enough. There is a great deal of talk about plurality and so on, but are we taking it seriously when we have media moguls with fat wallets running to the courts to silence Members of this House?
“The legislation is clear on this and gives the Minister powers. The 2014 Act refers to ‘the undesirability of allowing any one undertaking to hold significant interests [defined as in excess of a 20% share] within a sector or across different sectors of media business in the State’. We cannot have a situation in which one or two individuals can control such large chunks of influence and power.
“The Minister has until 24 December to conduct an assessment of this case. On such an important issue, there is a need to show political bravery and not be influenced by the threats of powerful individuals.
“I would appeal to the Minister to use his powers and refuse to grant consent to this takeover.”