Friday 17 November 2017

Newspapers must not be hindered by careless policy

As digital challenges take their toll, the time is right for a fresh look at troubled media industry, writes Colm McCarthy

It is a commonplace that a vibrant democracy needs a vibrant fourth estate but the Irish media companies are struggling. For both print and broadcast media, the impact of recession comes superimposed on the continuing assault of new digital platforms on their traditional business models. The result is that most Irish media organisations have been weakened financially to the point where their survival is in doubt.

Weak newspapers or broadcasters cannot invest in content, the essential response to the digital onslaught, nor can they resist pressures from the political establishment whose failings they must chronicle or from advertisers whose patronage they must court.

In the newspaper world, the Examiner and Independent groups have undergone drastic financial restructurings at the expense of creditors, hardly any of the print groups are making money and several national titles have disappeared. Further cost-cutting is under way at RTE, which has recorded sharp revenue declines and sizeable losses, while the domestic private sector broadcasters are doing no better.

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