High Concentration




The cover of the Report on the Concentration of Media Ownership in Ireland and Denis O’Brien

This afternoon.

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has published a Report on the Concentration of Media Ownership in Ireland, which she commissioned on behalf of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group of the European Parliament.

It was written by lawyers in Belfast and London.

Ms Boylan’s report follows a report in March – about media plurality and ownership in Ireland by the Centre for Pluralism and Media Freedom, led by Dr Roderick Flynn of Dublin City University.

From the report:

Ireland has one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy. Accumulation of what has been described as “communicative power” within the news markets is at endemic levels, and this, combined with the dominance of one private individual media owner in the State, creates what the Media Reform Coalition has described as “conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass huge political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests and personal views”.

The two most important controlling entities in the Irish media landscape are the national State broadcaster, RTÉ, and an individual businessman, Denis O’Brien…

…First, Mr. O’Brien has initiated a large number of sets of proceedings since 2010, including 12 cases against media organisations in relation to their coverage of his business affairs. Analysis stretching back almost two decades, to 1998, suggests that Mr. O’Brien has regularly made threats of legal action, and instituted legal proceedings, against journalists and media organisations.

Any wealthy individual bringing such a large number of claims seeking to restrict press coverage of their business dealings would raise concerns regarding freedom of expression and the potential for such litigious profligacy to have a ‘chilling effect’ on newsgathering and reporting in the public interest. However, when the wealthy individual in question is also the “largest owner of private media in the State,”  those concerns and risks are substantially increased.

The Report’s authors are aware of suggestions that there are legal bars to any such action being taken, but we reject any suggestion that it is not legally permissible to address the status quo and that tackling the current concentration of media ownership is impossible given the importance of property rights in the Irish Constitution and/ or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

On the contrary, our conclusion is that there is, in principle, no such legal bar. A retrospective mechanism could indeed be permissible under the Irish Constitution, EU law, and the ECHR.

…The devil is very much in the detail, and these are difficult issues. What is now needed is a careful review of the detail, and, accordingly, the Report recommends that the Government establish a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry.

Read the report in full here


28 thoughts on “High Concentration

  1. Cot

    For god’s sake. Leave Denis alone. Isn’t he helping the people of Haiti, the Clintons, human rights in general; and sure doesn’t he pay his taxes in Ireland? Go pick on someone your own size.

  2. Boy M5

    This is why most Irish people who want better quality journalism that isn’t controlled by a narrow minded MBA ideology ideology tend to read The Guardian The (London) Independent among other others.

    There is pretty much no decent national irish newspaper left.

    The Irish Times doesn’t cut it anymore. It was retreated to within the borders of Dublin 2, 4 and 6 and built a wall around itself of rustic middle class introspection.

      1. Boy M5

        I think the Irish ‘Independent’ is far worse. They have regular little life features with various FG TDs. Not even hiding it anymore.

        The IT will always be FG leaning too and always with an eye the ‘mainland’ due to their origins.

        The Irish Examiner shows some hope but a long way to go.

  3. Andy

    “…The devil is very much in the detail, and these are difficult issues. What is now needed is a careful review of the detail, and, accordingly, the Report recommends that the Government establish a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry.”

    So fancy report doesn’t actually come to any conclusions other than another review by other people is needed.

    Right….if I was commissioning this report I’d be asking for my money back if the above is a reflection of the end product

  4. Fact Checker

    I am aggressively agnostic on this issue. If this was 1960 I would worry about convmcentration in newspaper ownership.

    But it’s not.

    There is so much change in content and format of media that you can’t really DEFINE the market even.

    You could have plausibly argued in 2006 that Bebo was an indespensible part of the future of media in Ireland.

    You could hoover up entire platforms today and discover they don’t exist in a few years time.

    1. Mayav

      There are statistics available on media consumption, actually. It’s quite easy to define the market. TV, radio and newspapers still dominate in terms of consumption and influence. As such, concentration under one owner gives one great concern for worry about the nature of information being distributed from these outlets.

      1. Fact Checker

        How do you account for consumption of facebook, podcasts, twitter, etc?

        How do you weight their importance? How do you know what is influencing and what is not?

        Media critics tend to believe that everyone around them is gullible and impressionable, and only they themselves can see through the fog.

  5. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    Who is this mysterious ‘Boy M5’?
    – He’s way too clever to be a boy, and clever enough to pretend to be one even if she isn’t.

    I like your rhetoric, wherever it comes from, Mr./ /Mrs./ Ms. ‘Boy M5’.
    – No messing.

    An injection of life and some much-needed vitality is what you are.
    An antidote to the fluffy, modest, cllamp-headed, Kentuckey-Fried self=congratulatory and repetitious tripe we normally need to trawl through.

    Thank you for that.
    (We might fight in the future, but it will be on-line. Mates forever, yeah?)

  6. bsteve knievel

    remember when Oliver Callan was on the late late talking about redacted and there wasnt a peep out of the group business editor of inm. thats redacteds power for you.

  7. Truth in the News

    Remember the Fianna Fail election “there is a better way” indeed there is stop
    buying their rags and quit funding RTE

  8. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    That moment…
    …when you realise that the people you agree with can’t put a simple sentence together…

    Holy God.

  9. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

    We have a great tradition of knocking successful people here, great to see it live on with some me Fein gobspoos leading the battalion of London and Belfast based lawyers, such valiant heroes leading us to our rescue

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      Excuse me OhRowShayDoVahaWaile
      – I don’t for a moment think you didn’t mean to be so ambiguous. Your comment is still a riddle to me. I know that where it says ‘gobspoos’ you actually wrots gobspoos.
      That’s a given, but still… The rest of it is your fault.

      I’m not impressed, positively.

      1. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

        You’re a great inspiration to me badatmickies
        Your criticism cuts me to the core and wounds my soul

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