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‘No reason’ why €420,000 public service media report not yet published, senator claims


Minister Catherine Martin

Minister Catherine Martin

Minister Catherine Martin

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne has called on the Government to publish its €420,000 report on the future of public service broadcasting funding.

The report, from the Future of Media Commission, which was chaired by the head of the vaccine roll-out taskforce and former DCU president Brian MacCraith, was submitted to the Government last October.

However, it has still not been published, and Mr Byrne, who is a member of the Oireachtas Media Committee, said there was “no reason” for it to not be released.

The report is expected to contain the commission’s view on how RTÉ should be funded, as well as dealing with funding to ensure the viability of local broadcasters and local newspapers.

Mr Byrne said the report was crucial to the “debate” around the funding of RTÉ, as well as local and national media.

“We need to see the immediate publication of the Future of the Media Commission report,” he said.

“There is no reason why the report couldn’t be published. I don’t know why we’re still waiting.”

Mr Byrne said legislation to allow for the creation of an Online Safety Commissioner should also be published, after the Oireachtas Media Committee had to rush through its pre-legislative scrutiny.

“We do need to have a big debate around public service media and public service broadcasting, and I think that this debate will be best informed by the publication of the report and the legislation,” he said.

“The media plays a crucial role in our democracy, and we need to see how we can ensure the future viability of local media, and national print media, and how we can address disinformation and misinformation online.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture said the Future of Media Commission report had been submitted to the minister, Catherine Martin, whose remit includes media, and the Taoiseach “for their consideration”, after which it would be brought before the Cabinet.

However, it is not clear when this will happen.

“The report will not be published prior to any consideration of its contents by the Government,” they said.

The spokesperson added that Ms Martin would be “shortly” seeking the Government’s approval to publish the Online Safety and Media Regulation bill.

“Once the bill is published, it will be brought before the Oireachtas, where it will begin its passage through the legislative process,” the spokesperson said

The bill will establish a Media Commission, whose job will be to regulate online
services and reduce the availability of online harmful content.

The Media Commission will include an Online Safety Commissioner whose goal will be to tackle the availability of defined categories of harmful online content, including cyberbullying content, through binding Online Safety Codes.

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