Labour wants media bill to be speeded up
TENSIONS are escalating between the coalition partners over the laborious progress of Richard Bruton's Competition Bill, which will – eventually – transfer control over media mergers and diversity in the media to Labour's Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte. Last week, Labour Senator John Whelan, speaking on RTE's Late Debate programme, slammed what he said was the "tardy'' progress of the media-ownership and control bill.
He warned that such slow progress was all the more worrying, given the real dangers that the media in Ireland might evolve into what he called a "super-Murdoch regime'' scenario.
Mr Whelan said the current "dangerous and shifting scene'' was having a real impact on "journalists' independence and options to work''. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Whelan expressed the hope that "the difficulties faced by the Examiner group might prompt some urgency when it comes to protecting media diversity''.
He continued: "We do not want a reprise of the scenario that surrounded the collapse of the Irish Press Group, where the Government was open to the accusation that it had only shut the stable door after the horse had bolted.
"The sloppiness and delay on the Government's and Richard Bruton's part should set alarm bells ringing amongst those who realise that monopolies are not good for society or politics."
He warned that whilst some might be attracted to "a Pravda-style State, where the media would embrace the 'una duce, una voce' ethos in journalism'', those who were most enthusiastic might come to "regret their position''.
Asking why the legislation is proceeding so slowly, Mr Whelan replied: "One can only wonder is someone sitting on their hands or on the legislation itself?"