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Statement by Mr. Alan Rusbridger

14th March 2021

I was pleased to be invited by the Taoiseach to be part of the Future of the Media Commission. I was heartened by his backing for my continued involvement, along with the Culture and Media Minister, Catherine Martin. The unanimous support of my Commission colleagues was very important to me.

The Commission is considering critical issues for Ireland and I don’t want my involvement to be a distraction from its work, so I have told its Chair, Prof Brian MacCraith, that I will step down.


Statement by the Commission

9th March 2021

The Members of the Future of Media Commission unanimously support the continued membership of Alan Rusbridger on the Commission.

We believe that it was important for Alan and The Guardian to apologise to Máiría Cahill, who has exposed important issues of media standards and transparency. These issues will continue to form part of the Commission’s ongoing work.


Phase II of the Public Consultation - Thematic Dialogues - now underway

The Future of Media Commission is hosting a series of online thematic dialogues as part of the second phase of public consultation on its work. The next scheduled Thematic Dialogue takes place on March 19th 2021. To learn more, please click https://futureofmediacommission.ie/thematic-dialogues/thematic-dialogue-4/.


Phase I of Public Consultation - inital tranche of submissions now published

The first phase of the Future of Media Commission public consultation, which ran from December 12th 2020 - January 8th 2021, resulted in over 800 written submissions from stakeholder groups and the general public. Initially, the Commission is publishing submissions received from organisations, stakeholder groups and elected representatives. To view these submissions, please click https://futureofmediacommission.ie/public-consultation-2/.

Taoiseach and Minister Martin address the Future of Media Commission at its inaugural meeting

Messages from the Taoiseach and Minister Martin to the inaugural meeting of the Future of Media Commission on 29 October 2020

Press Releases

Thematic Dialogues - The Conversation Continues on 11 February 2021

Issued Wednesday 10 February 2021

The Future of Media Commission has been asked by the Government to examine how public service aims can be delivered and sustainably funded through broadcasting, print and online media in Ireland over the next decade, while ensuring that independent editorial oversight is maintained and Ireland’s creative and cultural sectors are supported. The Commission has been tasked with making recommendations on how best to set the sector on a sound footing for the future.

The Commission is continuing its public engagement activities with the second in a series of online thematic dialogues, this Thursday 11 February, at 15:30.

Prof. Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Future of Media Commission said “The media in Ireland provide services that are of critical importance for our society, our democracy and our culture. Public engagement in the debate about the future will help inform the Commission about what the public really values and how people in Ireland see the future of the media. We invite everyone to take part.”

If you would like to attend the event simply go to futureofmediacommission.ie where you can see the full programme and register.

Thursday’s dialogue will consider the benefits for communities from public service media and public service content providers. It will also look at the challenges and opportunities ahead, particularly those presented by new technologies for a vibrant, sustainable, accessible and equitable media landscape.

The speakers at Thursday’s event will be:

  • Dee Forbes, Director General of RTÉ
  • Peter Feeney, the Press Ombudsman on behalf of the Press Council
  • Jack Byrne, Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Craol, Community Radio Ireland
  • Seamus Dooley, National Union of Journalists
  • Dearbhail McDonald, Author, Broadcaster and member of the Equality Expert Group
  • Bob Hughes, Local Ireland, which represents regional newspapers in Ireland
  • Adrián Acosta, TheJournal.ie
  • Dualta Ó Broin, Facebook; and
  • Prof Colleen Murrell, Dublin City University

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Programme for Thematic Dialogue #2, 11th February 2021

15:30 Introductions. Prof. Brian MacCraith, Chair, Future of Media Commission


15:35 Panel 1: What do stakeholders, including the public, see as the benefits that Public Service Media and Public Service Content Providers provide for the communities they serve? What can they do to better serve communities and support social cohesion and democracy?

  • Dee Forbes, RTÉ
  • Peter Feeney, Press Council
  • Jack Byrne, Craol, Community Radio Ireland
  • Questions and Answers with Panel 1

16:15 Panel 2. What are the challenges and opportunities for public service media and public service content providers in Ireland?

  • Seamus Dooley, NUJ
  • Dearbhail McDonald, Author, Broadcaster and member of the Equality Expert Group
  • Bob Hughes, Local Ireland
  • Questions and Answers with Panel 2

16:55 Panel 3. What are the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies for a vibrant, sustainable, accessible and equitable media landscape?

  • Adrián Acosta, TheJournal.ie
  • Dualta Ó Broin, Facebook
  • Prof Colleen Murrell, DCU
  • Questions and Answers with Panel 3

17:35 Conclusion



Future of Media Commission commences Thematic Dialogues

Saturday 16 January 2021

The Future of Media Commission has today announced the launch of its online Thematic Dialogues series, as part of its second phase of public consultation.

The first thematic dialogue will take place on Thursday 28 January from 16:30 to 18:30, and will deal with the question of:

“What should public service content look like in the future, and how can the media engage diverse, hard-to-reach, audiences, including younger people, with such content?”

Subsequent dialogues will consider other themes of interest to the Commission, including: innovation challenges; the importance of professional journalism for society and democracy; funding, governance and regulation.

Chair of the Future of Media Commission, Prof. Brian MacCraith said: “The importance of the media to Irish people is evident from the more than 750 submissions that the Commission had received from the public in its first phase of consultation. We are now launching a series of online thematic debates on key topics associated with the Terms of Reference of the Commission. These dialogues will deepen our understanding of important topics and facilitate us in considering diverse opinions in our deliberations. In particular, they will enable us to evaluate how we can best meet people’s media needs for the future. I would encourage everyone to take part in them.”

Each dialogue will be a 2-hour event, involving three panel discussions, with invited panellists making presentations on the theme, followed by a 20-minute question and answer dialogue with the Commission and attendees.

Members of the public and interested stakeholders can register their interest in attending the Thematic Dialogues at www.futureofmediacommission.ie. The event will also be live-streamed on the Commission’s website.



Future of Media Commission commences work

Published by www.gov.ie on Thursday 29th October 2020 (https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/bb99c-future-of-media-commission-commences-work/)

The Future of Media Commission held its inaugural meeting today, 29 October 2020.
The Commission’s remit is to examine how public service aims can be delivered and sustainably funded through the broadcasting, print and online media in Ireland over the next 10 years, while ensuring that independent editorial oversight is maintained and Ireland’s creative and cultural sectors are supported.

The Chairperson of the Commission, Professor Brian MacCraith, commented: “I am delighted that the important work of the Commission is now underway. The Commission members bring a very wide range of expertise and experience to the challenge, and I look forward to working with them and other stakeholders over the coming months”.

Yesterday, the Government finalised membership of the Commission with the appointment of an additional member, Siobhan Holliman. Ms Holliman, who is Deputy Editor of The Tuam Herald and a member of the Press Council of Ireland, is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience working in regional broadcasting and newspapers.

The Commission is due to report in 9 months’ time to the Taoiseach and Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin.

In a message marking the inaugural meeting of the Commission, Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD thanked the members for their commitment, remarking that “A sustainable, independent, and objective media landscape plays a critical role in the functioning of democracy and it is important for us to examine how it can be funded into the future. I look forward to receiving the Commission’s recommendations next year.”

Minister for Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD wished the Commission well, saying “The Commission has a remit to chart the path for the future of media in Ireland in a way that supports informed public discourse and provides platforms for our language, culture, creative arts and sport.”

Note for Editors
The final membership of the Commission is as follows:

  • Chair of the Commission, Professor Brian MacCraith, former President of Dublin City University
  • Sinéad Burke, Director of Tilting the Lens, writer and academic active in social media, and member of the Council of State
  • Alan Rusbridger, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, and former Editor-in-Chief of Guardian News and Media
  • Lynette Fay, freelance broadcaster (broadcasting as Gaeilge and in English on BBC Radio Ulster) with an academic background in applied communications
  • Nuala O’Connor, co-founder of South Wind Blows, writer and documentary filmmaker in the areas of music and the Arts
  • Gillian Doyle, Professor of Media Economics (Theatre, Film and Television Studies), University of Glasgow.
  • Mark Little, CEO and co-Founder of Kinzen. Founder of social news agency, Storyful
  • Stephen McNamara, Director of Communications, Irish Rugby Football Union
  • Dr Finola Doyle-O’Neill, Broadcast Historian, University College Cork.
  • Siobhan Holliman, Deputy Editor of the Tuam Herald, member of the Press Council and joint Cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive Council of the NUJ.


Government Establishes Future of Media Commission

Published by merrionstreet.ie on Tuesday 29th September 2020 (https://merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/News/Government_Establishes_Future_of_Media_Commission.html)

The Government today agreed the terms of reference and membership of the Future of Media Commission. The Commission will be chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, former President of Dublin City University, and will also include experts in public service media, independent journalism, social media, new technology platforms, media economics, culture, language, creative content, governance and international best practice.

Welcoming the establishment of the Commission, Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said:

A strong, independent media structure is critical for Ireland’s cultural, sporting, creative and political life. People rely on newspapers, tv, radio and online platforms to find out about local and national issues, to inform them about current affairs, to showcase our culture, to reach out to our diaspora, and to bring the nation together at times of national celebration and reflection. Irish media outlets have always reflected the core principles of objectivity and independence, and at a time when disinformation is on the rise, sustainable and impartial journalism has never been more important.

The Future of Media Commission will chart a pathway for public service broadcasting and independent media into the future, and I am particularly pleased that Professor Brian Mac Craith, who has been an innovator in education and is a pre-eminent intellectual in Irish public life, has taken on the role of Chairperson. We need to examine how public service objectives can be funded in a way that is sustainable, ensures independent editorial oversight and delivers value for money to the public, and I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the Commission on this and all aspects of its terms of reference.

Caithfimid ár gcraoltóirí poiblí a thacú ar bonn inmharthana ionas go mbeidh ardán d’ár gcultúr, d’ár dteanga, is d’ár sport don todhcaí.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD also welcomed the establishment of the Commission, saying:

The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Traditional broadcasters and newspapers are facing new and increased pressures. The Government is determined to chart the way forward so that we can continue to have an energetic public service broadcaster that informs, entertains and reflects us as a people, and delivers value for money. Given their distinguished backgrounds in journalism, broadcasting, creative arts and academia, I am confident the Members of the Commission will bring the right blend of expertise, experience and energy to their work. I look forward to receiving their recommendations on how we can protect and enhance independent journalism, and ensure our creative artists have the platform to showcase our culture to the country and the wider world.

Professor Brian MacCraith commented:

I am very pleased to be appointed as Chair of the Future of Media Commission, and I look forward to working with my fellow Commission members on what is a very important public policy challenge and one that is very important for the quality and wellbeing of our shared society.

Members of the Future of Media Commission

  • Chair of the Commission, Professor Brian MacCraith, former President of Dublin City University
  • Sinéad Burke, Director of Tilting the Lens, writer and academic active in social media, and member of the Council of State
  • Alan Rusbridger, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, and former Editor-in-Chief of Guardian News and Media
  • Lynette Fay, freelance broadcaster (broadcasting as Gaeilge and in English on BBC Radio Ulster) with an academic background in applied communications
  • Nuala O’Connor, co-founder of South Wind Blows, writer and documentary filmmaker in the areas of music and the Arts
  • Gillian Doyle, Professor of Media Economics (Theatre, Film and Television Studies), University of Glasgow
  • Mark Little, CEO and co-Founder of Kinzen. Founder of social news agency, Storyful
  • Stephen McNamara, Director of Communications, Irish Rugby Football Union
  • Dr Finola Doyle-O’Neill, Broadcast Historian, University College Cork.

Terms of Reference

  • Well-functioning media systems, and in particular public service broadcasting, deliver four important public services to Irish society:
  • To inform, educate and entertain the Irish public with regard to matters of Irish culture, identity, sport, language and other matters inherent to Ireland and the Irish people;
  • To ensure that the public has access to high quality, impartial, independent journalism, reporting on matters of local, regional, national, European and international importance in a balanced way and which contributes to democratic discourse;
  • To bring the nation and diaspora together at moments of great national importance;
  • To ensure that creative Irish talent gets the opportunity to have their work reach audiences in Ireland and, where possible, further afield.

Since the foundation of the State, these aims have been, and continue to be, delivered by a wide number of media organisations including RTE and TG4, as the public service broadcasters, independent broadcasters, producers and print media, at local, regional and national level. More recently, online media is playing an increasingly important role. The Sound and Vision Scheme, which amounts to 7% of net TV licence revenue, has supported content with public service value by all broadcasters in conjunction with the independent production sector but is limited by statute to broadcasting sector.

The goals of the independent Commission are to:

  • Identify what the Irish experience has been in delivering the above aims through public service broadcasters, other broadcasters, print and online media at a local, regional and national level and the challenges created for these media by new global platforms and changing audience preferences in relation to how content is delivered;
  • Consider the extent to which the current models of delivery are the appropriate ones the next 10 years;
  • Review best practice in other comparable jurisdictions, particularly across the European Economic Area in terms of providing future-proofed models for meeting the above four public services in light of changing audience expectations, in particular the preferences and behaviours of younger audiences.

Arising from that work, the Commission is tasked with:

  • proposing how those public service aims should be delivered in Ireland over the next ten years;
  • how this should contribute to supporting Ireland’s cultural and creative sectors;
  • how this work can be funded in a way that is sustainable, gives greater security of funding, ensures independent editorial oversight and delivers value for money to the public;
  • making recommendations on RTE’s role, financing and structure within this framework;
  • How this is overseen and regulated, having regard to our EU obligations including the requirements of the revised Audio-visual Media Services Directive.

Note for Editors

In December 2019 the Government agreed the terms of reference for the Commission on the Future of Irish Public Service Broadcasting, to be established by the Department of the Taoiseach. The former President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian Mac Craith was appointed as Chair of the Commission.

The new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, expanded the remit of the Public Service Broadcasting Commission to become the Future of Media Commission, tasked with considering the future of print, broadcast, and online media in a platform agnostic fashion. The Programme for Government calls for the Commission to publish a report within nine months with recommendations on the measures required to ensure a vibrant, independent public service media for the next generation, noting that the current funding model for public service broadcasting is inefficient. The Commission secretariat will be provided by the Department of the Taoiseach in liaison with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.