Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | Monitoring developments in the 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; 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 Government established the Future of Media Commission to examine how media should serve Irish society, how well the current system meets these goals and what changes ought to be made to support media in Ireland in the future. In July 2022, the Government considered the Report of the Future of Media Commission and earlier this month approved an Implementation Strategy and Action Plan to provide for the recommendations of the Future of Media Commission.
One of the key recommendations made by the Commission was for the conversion of the Broadcasting Fund, currently provided for under Part 10 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and which supports the Sound and Vision and Archiving Schemes, into a Media Fund. This will provide funding for six additional schemes on a platform-neutral basis to the wider media sector. In light of the recommendations of the Commission, €6 million has been allocated in Budget 2023 to the Media Fund on an administrative basis, with the priority being the establishment of a Local Democracy Reporting Scheme and a Courts Reporting Scheme, both of which will support media at local, regional and national levels on a platform-neutral basis, including the local print media and radio stations.
In terms of existing supports for the local and regional radio sector, since taking office, I have secured significant additional Exchequer funding of €22.4m for the Sound and Vision Scheme. These additional allocations have included €5m for a first Climate Action and Climate Change round (jointly funded with Minister Ryan); €2m for the live music sector; €2m for Irish language content productions, and €7.5m for the commercial radio sector, including an additional €2.5m which I announced last December, and which will become available later this year.
As regards the regulation of online services and audiovisual media, the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Act 2022 will, once commenced, 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 platform services and designated online services. Upon its establishment, An Coimisiún will fulfill the role currently played by the BAI in licensing sound broadcasting services such as local radio stations. An Coimisiún will also be responsible for implementing the Sound and Vision Scheme, Local Democracy Reporting Scheme and Courts Reporting Scheme.
Last week, I announced the forthcoming appointment of the Executive Chairperson and Commissioners of Coimisiún na Meán on an administrative basis with effect from mid-February. This will enable them to undertake preparatory work in advance of the formal commencement of the Act.
Taken together, these provisions will both support local media and put in place a powerful new regulator to oversee the regulation of designated online services.
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