Exploring Ireland’s decline in media plurality

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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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1479382383515-ed0923d1-1fb7-1″ taxonomies=”76″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Leading human rights law practice renews support for campaigning charity Index on Censorship

Doughty Street Chambers and Index on Censorship are delighted to announce Doughty Street’s renewed sponsorship of Index’s Freedom of Expression Awards and an extension to Doughty Street’s support for the organisation.

Doughty Street – a leading human rights and civil liberties practice – has supported the Freedom of Expression Awards for the past two years and has committed to continue for the next three. The awards honour those at the forefront of tackling censorship globally and are offered in four categories: arts, digital advocacy, journalism and campaigning. Previous award winners include campaigner Malala Yousafzai, conductor Daniel Barenboim and cartoonist Ali Ferzat.

In addition to their support for the awards, Doughty Street will provide Index with pro-bono support for the duration of its sponsorship and collaborate on other initiatives, including support for the organisation’s events programme.

Robin Jackson, chief executive, Doughty Street Chambers, said: “When I first attended the Index awards, I was absolutely humbled by the stories of the work and commitment to freedom of expression of unsung but very real heroes around the world – I think this is the reaction of everyone who attends the event, and it is still mine today. The synergy between what we try to achieve at Doughty Street and what Index on Censorship so effectively promotes makes us obvious partners. I am delighted that we have chosen Index as our principal charity and have committed to support both the awards and Index’s other work in striving for what has to become a fundamental freedom in practice as well as in principle.”

Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC, joint head of Doughty Street Chambers and former judge of the Freedom of Expression Awards, said: “Freedom of expression is both a right and a responsibility. Index on Censorship brings to the fore not only the complex issues which need to be discussed but more importantly the names and actions of those who struggle against the political, legal and cultural oppression of this right, most often in the face of violence, persecution and imprisonment. Index’s work is invaluable and we at Doughty Street want to play a part in furthering it; I would also encourage others to commit to this responsibility.”

One of the first events on which Doughty Street and Index will collaborate is ‘Writing the World: Voices of the Censored’ – a reading of works by silenced artists and a panel discussion with authors and actors including Costa Award winner Christie Watson and former RSC actor Janet Suzman, at Kew Gardens in September.

“We are delighted to be extending our partnership with Doughty Street Chambers,” said Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship chief executive. “Since its foundation in 1990, Doughty Street, like Index, has been at the forefront of challenging freedom of expression threats and defending fundamental civil liberties. We are pleased to be working with such an esteemed group of legal experts.”

For more information, contact: 0207 260 2660 or [email protected]

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