REPORT
Exploring Ireland's decline in media plurality

Concentrated media market gives business owners influence over the news

10 Nov 2016
BY MARIAM AMERI
The full report is available in PDF format

The full report is available in PDF format

The Republic of Ireland has seen a steady decline in media plurality, according to the authors of a new report.

The recent Report on the Concentration of Media Ownership in Ireland, published on 19 October, concludes that the country has one of the most concentrated media markets, with wealthy media owners possessing the influence to skew the news report for personal gain. According to the report the  The authors — Caoilionn Gallagher and Jonathan Price at Doughty Street Chambers, Gavin Booth and Darragh Mackin at KRW Law, and commissioned by Lynn Boylan MEP– drew on a variety of studies to compile the report including research from the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom’s Media Pluralism Monitor (2015). Based on the source material, the report examined how diversity in viewpoints and opinions are reflected in a nation’s media content. 

CMPF created a Media Pluralism Monitor to measure whether a country is a “high risk territory” on a scale of 0% to 100%, with “high risk” countries falling at 74% or above. Researchers based in the 19 countries covered by the monitor collect data points that include protection of journalists, number of media outlets, political independence and social inclusiveness among other indicators.

In 2015 Dr. Roderick Flynn, of Dublin City University, generated a report on Ireland for CMPF’s Media Pluralism Monitor which found there was a “medium risk” (54%) of market plurality, and specifically “very high risk” (74%) in relation to the “concentration of media ownership”. Based on Flynn’s research it was concluded that, largely, the media concentration stemmed from businessman Denis O’Brien, founder of Communicorp, owner of a significant minority stake in Independent News and Media and a large portion of the commercial radio sector. The October report called O’Brien’s ownership and influence in media outlets a concern. Additionally, Doughty Street Chambers and KRW Law highlighted the Irish defamation law as a key issue “which threatens news plurality and undermines the media’s ability to perform its watchdog function”.

Though Flynn’s study and the Doughty Street Chambers and KRW Law report clearly point out significant issues, which have been further discussed with organisations such as the National Union of Journalists and the EU Commission, it also proposes ideas for revisions. The report states the “firm view that there must be detailed multi-disciplinary analysis and careful consideration before any steps are taken”. The authors of the report suggest that the Irish should “establish a cross-disciplinary commission of inquiry”, which would “examine the issues closely and make concrete recommendations.” Additionally the authors ask the Council of European Committee of Experts on Media Pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership to work within the parameters of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a treaty that “the right to [business] property is heavily caveated under”. Consequently, by utilising the ECHR, the committee could spur a decrease in the media power of business moguls such as Denis O’Brien. Along with further modifications, the study indicates that these alterations are necessary to maintain media plurality in Ireland.

Ireland: Irish Times journalists banned from Communicorp airwaves

Staff from the Irish Times will no longer appear on Ireland’s only two national commercial radio stations, Newstalk and Today FM

Ireland’s media ownership concentration breeds pessimism

While media observers routinely identify Ireland’s lack of plurality in media ownership, which is among the most highly concentrated in Europe, as a significant concern, there’s considerable disagreement on how to tackle the issue.

How dangerous is it to be a journalist in Ireland 20 years after the murder of Veronica Guerin?

This weekend marks 20 years since the murder of Irish award-winning crime reporter and investigative journalist Veronica Guerin

World Poetry Day: Seamus Heaney’s love of language

It’s the 17th annual World Poetry Day, which was first declared by Unesco in 1999 to help meet the world’s aesthetic needs by promoting the reading and writing of poetry

Mariam Ameri

Mariam Ameri is a student at Boston University and an intern at Index on Censorship.

Comments are closed.