Thu, 29 Oct 2020

Future of Media Commision in Ireland members revealed

Conor Trindle
02 Oct 2020, 00:21 GMT+10

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government has agreed the terms of reference and membership of the Future of Media Commission.

The Commission will be chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, former President of Dublin City University, and will include experts in public service media, independent journalism, social media, new technology platforms, media economics, culture, language, creative content, governance and international best practice.

"A strong, independent media structure is critical for Ireland's cultural, sporting, creative and political life. People rely on newspapers, TV, radio and online platforms to find out about local and national issues, to inform them about current affairs, to showcase our culture, to reach out to our diaspora, and to bring the nation together at times of national celebration and reflection," Taoiseach Micheal Martin said late Tuesday.

"Irish media outlets have always reflected the core principles of objectivity and independence, and at a time when disinformation is on the rise, sustainable and impartial journalism has never been more important."

"The Future of Media Commission will chart a pathway for public service broadcasting and independent media into the future, and I am particularly pleased that Professor Brian Mac Craith, who has been an innovator in education and is a pre-eminent intellectual in Irish public life, has taken on the role of Chairperson. We need to examine how public service objectives can be funded in a way that is sustainable, ensures independent editorial oversight and delivers value for money to the public, and I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the Commission on this and all aspects of its terms of reference," the taoiseach said.

"The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Traditional broadcasters and newspapers are facing new and increased pressures. The Government is determined to chart the way forward so that we can continue to have an energetic public service broadcaster that informs, entertains and reflects us as a people, and delivers value for money. Given their distinguished backgrounds in journalism, broadcasting, creative arts and academia, I am confident the Members of the Commission will bring the right blend of expertise, experience and energy to their work. I look forward to receiving their recommendations on how we can protect and enhance independent journalism, and ensure our creative artists have the platform to showcase our culture to the country and the wider world," - Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin.

Professor Brian MacCraith said: "I am very pleased to be appointed as Chair of the Future of Media Commission, and I look forward to working with my fellow Commission members on what is a very important public policy challenge and one that is very important for the quality and wellbeing of our shared society.

Aside from the Chair of the Commission, Professor Brian MacCraith, former President of Dublin City University, other members comprise Sinead Burke, Director of Tilting the Lens, writer and academic active in social media, and member of the Council of State; Alan Rusbridger, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, and former Editor-in-Chief of Guardian News and Media; Lynette Fay, freelance broadcaster (broadcasting as Gaeilge and in English on BBC Radio Ulster) with an academic background in applied communications; Nuala O'Connor, co-founder of South Wind Blows, writer and documentary filmmaker in the areas of music and the Arts; Gillian Doyle, Professor of Media Economics (Theatre, Film and Television Studies), University of Glasgow; Mark Little, CEO and co-Founder of Kinzen. Founder of social news agency, Storyful; Stephen McNamara, Director of Communications, Irish Rugby Football Union; and Dr Finola Doyle-O'Neill, Broadcast Historian, University College Cork.

Two further proposed members will be announced subject to confirmation of availability.

Terms of Reference

Well-functioning media systems, and in particular public service broadcasting, deliver four important public services to Irish society:

  • To inform, educate and entertain the Irish public with regard to matters of Irish culture, identity, sport, language and other matters inherent to Ireland and the Irish people;
  • To ensure that the public has access to high quality, impartial, independent journalism, reporting on matters of local, regional, national, European and international importance in a balanced way and which contributes to democratic discourse;
  • To bring the nation and diaspora together at moments of great national importance;
  • To ensure that creative Irish talent gets the opportunity to have their work reach audiences in Ireland and, where possible, further afield.

Since the foundation of the State, these aims have been, and continue to be, delivered by a wide number of media organisations including RTE and TG4, as the public service broadcasters, independent broadcasters, producers and print media, at local, regional and national level. More recently, online media is playing an increasingly important role. The Sound and Vision Scheme, which amounts to 7% of net TV licence revenue, has supported content with public service value by all broadcasters in conjunction with the independent production sector but is limited by statute to broadcasting sector.

The goals of the independent Commission are to:

  • Identify what the Irish experience has been in delivering the above aims through public service broadcasters, other broadcasters, print and online media at a local, regional and national level and the challenges created for these media by new global platforms and changing audience preferences in relation to how content is delivered;
  • Consider the extent to which the current models of delivery are the appropriate ones the next 10 years;
  • Review best practice in other comparable jurisdictions, particularly across the European Economic Area in terms of providing future-proofed models for meeting the above four public services in light of changing audience expectations, in particular the preferences and behaviours of younger audiences.

Arising from that work, the Commission is tasked with:

  • proposing how those public service aims should be delivered in Ireland over the next ten years;
  • how this should contribute to supporting Ireland's cultural and creative sectors;
  • how this work can be funded in a way that is sustainable, gives greater security of funding, ensures independent editorial oversight and delivers value for money to the public;
  • making recommendations on RTE's role, financing and structure within this framework;
  • How this is overseen and regulated, having regard to our EU obligations including the requirements of the revised Audio-visual Media Services Directive.

In December 2019 the Government agreed the terms of reference for the Commission on the Future of Irish Public Service Broadcasting.

The new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, expanded the remit of the Public Service Broadcasting Commission to become the Future of Media Commission, tasked with considering the future of print, broadcast, and online media in a platform agnostic fashion. The Programme for Government calls for the Commission to publish a report within nine months with recommendations on the measures required to ensure a vibrant, independent public service media for the next generation, noting that the current funding model for public service broadcasting is inefficient. The Commission secretariat will be provided by the Department of the Taoiseach in liaison with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

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