Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which she and her Department continue to monitor developments in the media with particular reference to the need to ensure that local print media and radio stations are not endangered by unregulated entities
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which she and her Department continue to monitor developments in the media with particular reference to the need to ensure that local print media and radio stations are not endangered by unregulated entities; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I recognise the essential role that local print media and the local and regional radio sector plays in sharing reliable and relevant local news and bringing communities together. The media sector in Ireland, which is a vital element of our democracy and society as a whole, is undergoing fundamental change.
The local media sector has faced a fall in revenue arising from COVID-19, but also faces longer term challenges as a result of changing patterns of media consumption, technology and shifts in advertising revenue to online services.
Since I assumed formal responsibility for the media sector in September 2020, I have met key stakeholders including the NewsBrands Ireland, Local Ireland, and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
In relation to the local radio sector, I have received quarterly reports from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the commercial radio sector and met with the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI).
Support for the production of audiovisual and audio content for Irish audiences is provided through the Sound and Vision Scheme, which is established under the Broadcasting Act 2009 and administered by the BAI. The Scheme is funded through the allocation of 7% of net licence fee receipts per annum.
Under section 156 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, I as Minister may allocate additional Exchequer funding to the Sound and Vision Scheme. In this regard, I recently announced €10.5 million in additional funding to the Scheme, which will support programming on both radio and television. This additional funding has been allocated as follows:
- €5 million for climate change and climate action content production;
- €2 million for live music broadcasting productions;
- €2 million for Irish language programming; and,
- €1.5 million extra for general Sound and Vision scheme projects
This Government is committed to putting in place a framework which will enable a sustainable future for a vibrant, diverse and independent media sector, encompassing print, audiovisual, radio and online.
A key element in this was the establishment of the Future of Media Commission, which was chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith. The Commission’s task was a complex one, with a remit to address the many issues of concern for the entire media industry. As a result, the Commission’s report and the wide ranging recommendations it contains have required careful and detailed thought.
The detailed consideration of the Future of Media Commission’s report by An Taoiseach, myself and other key Ministers is nearing conclusion, and it will be brought to Government for consideration in the coming weeks.
As regards the regulation of online services and audiovisual media, the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Bill 2022, which is currently at Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann, will establish a multi-person Media Commission (to be known as Coimisiún na Meán), dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), and establish frameworks for the regulation of audiovisual media services and online safety. This will include the regulation of video sharing platforms and designated online services. Upon its establishment, An Coimisiún will fulfil the role currently played by the BAI in licensing sound broadcasting services such as local radio stations.
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