Transparency builds trust
Olaf Steenfadt, Project Director of Reporters without Borders’s Media Ownership Monitor, put the European situation into a global context. He emphasised that transparency about media ownership works in favour of the owners, because the public understands who is behind the news and is therefore more ready to trust it.
Taking up the political challenge, Catherine Murphy, an elected member of the Daíl (Irish parliament) told the #newsocracy2 delegates that competition laws had been ignored in the recent takeover of Celtic Media Holdings, which now belong to Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp. It is a multi-national corporation that owns a major part of national and local newspapers as well as several radio stations, in addition to radio groups and newspapers in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.
Murphy went straight from the debate to the Daíl, where she moved a Private Members Bill to make the anti-competition law retrospective in the case of Celtic Media Holdings. The basis for this unusual move was established in a legal opinion commissioned by MEP Lynn Boylan, from the London-based law firm Doughty Street chambers. She was acting on behalf of the GUENL group of green and left wing MEPs.
Boylan said, quoting from the legal opinion:
On the concentration of media ownership in Ireland, we consider there to be a perfect storm which poses grave risks to freedom of expression and media pluralism in the Irish market”.