Ireland: media concentrated in a few hands

In July 2018 media concentration on the Irish media market took another step forwards: The Irish Times, Ireland’s oldest daily founded in 1859, took over the country’s fourth-largest newspaper, the Irish Examiner.

The country's oldest newspaper (© picture-alliance/dpa)
The country's oldest newspaper (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Critics have long been demanding that the government take action against the concentration of media ownership, because particularly in the print sector it is very high in comparison to other Western European states. Nearly half of the market share for daily and Sunday newspapers is in the hands of the Independent News and Media Group (INM). The group’s flagship publication, The Irish Independent, is the country's most widely read daily paper. In July 2019 INM was taken over by the Belgian media group Mediahuis.

According to studies two-thirds of the population still reads newspapers on a regular basis. But online news sites such as are becoming increasingly popular. The Irish are also enthusiastic radio listeners: about 85 percent of the population tune in to one of the English or Gaelic-language stations on a regular basis.

RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) is Ireland’s semi-state owned public service broadcaster. It operates various radio and television stations, but also has a strong online presence. RTE programmes are financed by broadcasting licence fees as well as advertising. Like the BBC next door in the UK, RTE is struggling financially.

Gaelic publications are the exception and are mostly subsidised by the state to promote the conservation of the Irish language, which 40 percent of the population still speak. The public television channel TG4 as well as six radio stations broadcast exclusively in Gaelic. In December 2008, however, the last Gaelic daily Lá Nua ceased publication.

In accordance with the Anglo-Saxon liberal media model, political parties in Ireland have little influence on the press. Links with commercial interests are traditionally stronger. Both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland British media are widespread. They adjust their content only slightly to cater to the Irish public.

The thirty-year-old conflict in Northern Ireland between unionist Protestants and separatist Catholics has at times led to restrictions on press freedom which affected the Republic of Ireland in particular. But since the Good Friday agreement of 1998 brought the Troubles to an end, press freedom has been guaranteed.

World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders): Rank 13 (2020)

Last updated: April 2020
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