Need for legislation to regulate Media Ownership highlighted at Media Diversity Conference
Posted on February 07, 2012
Primacy of Competition laws & failure to regulate is having detrimental effect on workers’ conditions and freedom of the press
A National Conference heard that in order to ensure media diversity it is essential that legislation to regulate Media Ownership must be introduced.
The conference Media Diversity: Why does it matter? which was organised by Ireland East Labour MEP, Nessa Childers was aimed at exploring the implications for traditional notions of democratic accountability and journalistic independence given the emergence and dominance of multi-national media corporations.
Nessa Childers welcomed the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte recent announcement that this year Ireland we will see the publication of a bill to regulate media mergers. “We need to protect diversity in Ireland and seriously look at the lessons from the situation in the UK, both in terms of media ownership and journalist ethics”.
Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley stated: “The issues of concentration of ownership and the power of individuals and groups may not appear so acute in Ireland but there are fundamental issues of ownership. The primacy of competition law and the failure to give adequate consideration to the concept of the wider public interest have contributed to the situation whereby media ownership and control rests in the hands of a few.
“Failure to regulate and its implications are best illustrated by the recent events in the UK. Media workers in the UK and also in Ireland have paid a very price for the failure of their Governments to control media ownership. The lessons of Murdoch are that concentration of power and ownership has consequences not just for the business of journalism but for the public interest.”
He continued “Within the regional media sector, in broadcasting and in print we have witnessed the loss of diversity with consequences for wages, standards and democracy. The absence of adequate statutory protection for workers and the failure to legislate for collective bargaining, coupled with the actions of the Competition Authority in undermining the collective rights of freelance workers have contributed to the undermining of journalists and journalism.”
Financial Times Contributing Editorand co-founder of Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, John Lloyd stated “Journalism is better while the other institutions, politicians and regulators do their job. The events in the UK over the past year shine a harsh light on the need to be constantly concerned with the nature of media freedom.”
Discussing what has come out of UK events that Ireland can learn from, John Lloyd stated: “Journalists committed crimes and used power arrogantly and abusively; there are suggestions of police corruptions by the media, the law was not applied, the ‘regulator’ did not regulate but pretended to and politicians kowtowed to the media power of Rupert Murdoch.
“Politicians, the media themselves and civil society must demand better and regulate effectively. Greater diversity and more owners may help this situation.
“Above all, to protect diversity we need to take full advantage of the innovations of the internet. We must develop and underpin the huge diversity that is already there and ensure that it remains and is not threatened” he said.