Irish BAI Consults on draft Media Plurality Policy

posted on 19 December, 2018   (public)

Draft provides clarification on definition of Media Plurality and on framework of action for Irish regulator

On 11 December 2018, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) launched  a public consultation on a new draft Policy on Media Plurality.

The Mission in BAI's Statement of Strategy 2017 – 2019 states that the BAI will “promote a plurality of voices, viewpoints, outlets and sources in Irish media”. More precisely, the three key strategic objectives of the BAI in this regard are to:

  • facilitate a mix of voices, opinions and sources of news and current affairs in audio-visual media which enhances democratic debate and active citizenship in Ireland
  • Increase the production and availability of culturally relevant audio-visual content for Irish audiences
  • Foster and promote quality programming in the Irish Language.

Against this background, the primary purpose of the draft Media Plurality Policy document is to:

  •  provide context for the BAI’s role in respect of media plurality. The BAI has a statutory role under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 which includes providing advice to the Minister on media mergers and conducting plurality focused research on a regular basis. The BAI’s role is also situated in a European context, in particular, the Council of Europe’s 2018 Recommendations on Media pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership and the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • provide a definition for media plurality: Media plurality is defined with reference to both the content and ownership of media, and this two-fold conception addresses both external and internal plurality.
  • outline why Media Pluralism is important. Media pluralism makes an important contribution to a well-functioning democratic society through informed citizens. But the importance of media plurality must necessarily be considered in the context of a rapidly evolving and highly innovative media environment. Current challenges include significant changes in the consumption of different media, concern regarding issues of disinformation, misinformation and mal-information,  the aggregation of personal data, the impact of news filters, intermediaries and algorithms and threats to the financial ecosystem of news and cultural production.
  • detail policy objectives and outline the measures the BAI takes to promote and support media plurality in Ireland. The key activities include: licensing; the BAI Ownership and Control Policy; BAI’s Obligations under Media Mergers Legislation; research; media literacy; BAI Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News & Current Affairs; Broadcasting Funding Scheme, including Sound and Vision and the BAI Archiving Policy; Irish Language Action Plan; as well as dialogue with stakeholders.

The draft Policy has also been informed by research undertaken by an external consultant (Deirdre Kevin, Comm Sol Ltd), which entailed a jurisdictional review examining key issues in media plurality having regard to practices in the EU.

Stakeholders and members of the public will have up to 30 January 2019 to make submissions to the Irish broadcasting regulator.

Source: Website of BAI