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Mediahuis takeover of INM ‘won't solve broader issue of media viability’ – Boylan

2 May, 2019 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Following the announcement of the Mediahuis takeover of INM, Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has called on the government to appoint a Committee of experts on Media Pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership to ensure the diversity and viability of the media in Ireland is secured and maintained into the future. 

The Sinn Féin Dublin MEP said:

“Tuesday’s announcement that Mediahuis is to takeover INM following its acquisition of Denis O’Brien shares in the company is good news for media diversity in Ireland, a diversity of sorts that has occurred by accident rather than design.  However, the sale does not solve the issue of the sustainability of the media into the future.

“An independent study I commissioned in 2016 found that Ireland had one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy. My report found that Denis O’Brien, a billionaire businessman and one of Ireland’s richest people, and RTÉ were the two most controlling entities in Irish media.

“Another report published by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom also raised specific concerns about INM and Denis O’Brien, but highlighted the issue of falling revenue for print media and a lack of diversity of voices in both print and broadcast media.

“Just last year, the Committee of Ministers adopted a report commissioned by the Council of Europe that recommended member states adopt regulatory and policy measures to promote diversity of media content as well as the representation of the whole diversity of society in the media. 

“My report recommended that the government establish a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry to examine media ownership in Ireland, echoing similar calls by the NUJ. Both the Council of Europe’s Committee of expert report and the NUJ have raised additional concerns for media in Ireland including gender equality, election coverage, barriers to diversity in the media, and the precarious nature of employment in the sector. 

“It also raised concerns with regards to Ireland’s defamation laws and described any business persons prolific use of such laws as having a ‘chilling effect’ on newsgathering and reporting in the public interest.

“To date, Fine Gael has refused to step up to its responsibility to shape the regulatory and legal framework necessary to protect media diversity and plurality in Ireland. A robust and independent media with legal safeguards is essential to any functioning democracy. By establishing an expert Committee Media Pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership, the government would finally deliver on the commitments already made when adopting the Council of Europe report last year.” 

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