Thursday 18 January 2018

Elaine Byrne: Time to sharpen canines on media conflicts of interest

Tom Savage's role as chairman of the state broadcaster seems at odds with his job as PR guru, writes Elaine Byrne

There is a saying within Irish media circles, 'dog does not eat dog'. Well, I have a very big appetite today, dear readers.

Tom Savage is a public official. He is the chairman of the RTE Board, the governing authority of Ireland's public broadcaster. The 2009 Broadcasting Act states that his official duties are to "safeguard the independence of the corporation. . . from State, political and commercial influences".

He is also the founding director, chairman and owner of the Communications Clinic. The purpose of this PR company, according to its website, is to "persuade, influence, convince, befriend, sell, assure, impart and connect". In particular, it specialises in aiding "government departments" and "some politicians" to communicate effectively and to "minimise [the] public impact" of a crisis.

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