In light of the announcement that Independent News and Media have struck a deal to purchase a further seven regional newspapers; Sinn Fein TD for Wicklow East Carlow John Brady has hit out at what he describes as an attempt to steal total control over the country’s media industry.
“The state of media ownership in Ireland has been of some concern for quite a while. Recently an EU report stated that Ireland is at high risk when it comes to media diversity. As reported in the Irish Examiner earlier this year; the report by the European University Institute’s Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom said existing levels of media concentration, particularly in print and broadcast media, already exceeded the recommended maximum 20% market share described in the 2014 Competition and Consumer Protection. The previous Fine Gael/Labour government had promised to address this issue, however when it came down to it they refused to act decisively, opting instead to merely play around with the edges and continue to allow Denis O’Brien and Independent News and Media (INM) to have disproportionate control over Irish Media. Now it appears with this most recent announcement, the influence of INM is travelling deeper across the country.”
Teachta Brady continued by saying that a progressive society needs media diversity to reflect the diversity of views across the country:
“How can it be right that one conglomerate can have such a wealth of control over Irish media; effectively pushing out competition along with opposing views and alternative analysis? It’s a perverse and dangerous practice one might expect to find in places like South China; not North Kerry and South Connaught. It also means that minority groups can be under-represented in mainstream media with the EU report suggesting that some social and cultural groups as well as local communities have problems accessing media. INM holds 45% of the share of the national newspaper circulation. They also hold a 22% share of the radio market. Regarding 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 that this new venture by INM to acquire seven regional titles including 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.”
In Conclusion Teachta Brady said that the government – regardless of its relationships with media elites – need to address the serious imbalance that exists when it comes to the ownership Irish Media:
“The National Union of Journalists have said that they are ‘gravely concerned’ about these developments and have 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.’ 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 to look at this deal in isolation, but to look at the issue of plurality and diversity in the media sector as a whole.”