The Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley, has called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the future of Ireland’s media.
He said the commission should examine all aspects of the country’s media policy, including ownership, commercial and editorial control, employment standards, training as well as cross-ownership.
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Dooley made his call at a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland seminar”Ensuring plurality in the digital age”. He said the inquiry should embrace all platforms, including print, broadcasting and digital.
He said the failure to deal with media dominance in Ireland by a small group was having “grave consequences” on employment standards in the national and regional newspaper sectors. He said:
“You cannot talk about the future of the media, national or regional, without talking about the crisis in employment across all platforms. Neither can you ignore the implications for editorial diversity of commercial control by a small group of powerful forces.”
Dooley will surely have in mind the dominance of the media company CommuniCorp, which is run by Ireland’s richest man, Denis O’Brien.
It holds a major stake in Independent News & Media, Ireland’s largest newspaper outfit, which publishes the nation’s best-selling daily title, its two best-selling Sunday titles plus 14 provincial papers.
In broadcasting, it has the country’s only two independent national radio stations, Newstalk and Today FM, along with two leading Dublin stations, 98FM and Spin 1038, plus the Limerick-based Spin South West.
CommuniCorp is also seeking a collaboration with the free-to-air television network, TV3, with the hope of sharing presenters and the shared selling of advertising.
O’Brien has extensive non-media interests in Ireland, ranging from a chain of petrol filling stations, civil engineering, utilities services – notably the provision of water meters – and private hospitals.