THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists has called on the Government to expedite legislation transferring responsibly for media mergers and competition issues relating to media ownership to the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources.
In the wake of the AGM of Independent News and Media Plc the NUJ has called for the establishment of a commission on media ownership in Ireland and has warned against the consequences of concentration of ownership of print, broadcast and on-line media.
Vice President Barry McCall said: With so much of the media now in the effective control of Denis O’Brien there is a need for urgent action on this issue. There is an urgent need for legislation guaranteeing media plurality. “The NUJ has long demanded action in this area. Today’s developments serve to underline the consequences of failure to deal with this issue by successive governments. Cowardice in dealing with powerful vested interests has brought us to this situation and real leadership is needed if we are to have a media which is diverse and which serves the public interest free of commercial or personal agendas. Quality journalism is crucially dependent on diversity of ownership. The allocation of editorial budgets, the appointment of editors and broad company policies are determined by those who own a media organisation.”
Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said: “The Government must address the immediate issues arising from the effective take-over of INM by a powerful figure engaged in cross-media ownership but there is also a need for a wider public debate on media policy in Ireland. Successive review bodies have concentred on elements of the media but we now need a commission on media ownership, reviewing all aspects of media ownership and control.”