THE National Union of Journalists has strongly criticised the Irish government’s delay in establishing the promised Commission on the Future of the Media.
In a statement to mark World News Day the joint chairs of the Irish Executive Council, Siobhan Holliman and Dara Bradley, today called on Media Minister Catherine Martin to give “urgent priority” for State assistance to both publicly funded and private media in Ireland.
Ms Holliman and Mr Bradley said: “We are calling on the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht to act on the promises in the programme for government and to establish the promised commission before it is too late. At regional and national level our industry is in crisis. Employment is under threat and as the trade union representing journalists, we are fearful for the future of our members, staff and freelance. News matters and the dissemination of authoritative, verifiable journalism is a cornerstone of democracy.”
Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary said the current and previous governments had spent “too long talking about establishing a Media Commission but had failed to deliver one measure to protect public service broadcasting or to assist struggling commercial media organisations”.
Mr Dooley also criticised the lack of engagement by the Government with the trade union movement and industry bodies on the future of the media.
He said: “If the proposed commission is to be of value it must have clear terms of reference and there must be an input from the industry, including the NUJ. Ms Martin has failed to respond to our request for a meeting issued in July and appears not to have engaged with industry bodies. The original Commission, dealing only with public service broadcasting, was due to report this month but it has not been formally established.
There is a serious threat to employment within the media industry, across all platforms. As a member of the government sub-committee considering an economic stimulus package Ms Martin is well placed to seek support in addressing the current precarious position of RTÉ.
She should also ensure that an action plan will be put in place for the media, with particular emphasis on the viability of the regional newspaper sector.”