Belfast Telegraph

Government accused of letting Irish media wither on the vine

Fianna Fail questioned whether there would be an industry left to save if action is not taken within the next five years.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary has accused the Government of burying its head in the sand while the Irish media industry dies (Niall Carson/PA)
Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary has accused the Government of burying its head in the sand while the Irish media industry dies (Niall Carson/PA)

By David Young, PA

The Government has been accused of burying its head in the sand while the Irish media industry dies.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary said the 200 job losses announced by national broadcaster RTE as part of cost-cutting reforms should serve as a “wake-up call” and prompt state action to save under-pressure outlets.

During leaders’ questions in the Dail parliament in Dublin, he accused deputy premier Simon Coveney of “whistling by the graveyard” as Irish media died.

Our entire media industry as a country, including RTE, is on life support and your prescription is tea and sympathy Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary

Mr Calleary, who referred to recent job losses at other Irish media organisations, accused the Government of dithering on a number of pressing issues, such as libel law reform, tackling licence fee evasion rates, and the wider plan to replace the licence fee with a new broadcasting charge.

“There is a constant effort by government to kick the can down the road and not to deal with the challenges it is facing,” he said.

“Are you going to continue to keep your head in the sand while our media industry dies?”

Mr Coveney insisted the Government was being proactive in regard to the challenges resulting from transforming media landscape.

He said organisations like RTE need to adapt to changes in how consumers access media content.

“We will play our part from a policy point of view, but we also expect RTE to evolve and make the decisions they need to respond to consumer approaches towards media which is changing dramatically,” he said.

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Tanaiste Simon Coveney said RTE needs to adapt to the changing broadcasting landscape (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Coveney stressed that Communications Minister Richard Bruton only received RTE’s restructuring plan on Thursday morning.

Mr Calleary said the Government had been aware of the challenges facing the industry for years and had not acted.

“Our entire media industry as a country, including RTE, is on life support and your prescription is tea and sympathy,” he said.

“You need to wake up. You speak of new challenges – we have known about these for five years.

“You are kicking cans down the line for another five years – will we have a media industry in five years?

“Good media is dying on the vine while you whistle by the graveyard and let this be the wake-up call.”

PA

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