Ireland: media concentrated in a few hands

In December 2017 the stage was set for further concentration on the Irish media market: the country's oldest newspaper, The Irish Times, founded in 1859, announced its intention to take 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 high concentration of media ownership, because particularly in the print sector it is particularly high in comparison to other Western European states. Nearly half of the daily and Sunday newspaper market is in the hands of the Independent News and Media Group (INM). The group’s flagship publication is the country's most widely read newspaper, The Irish Independent. INM majority owner Denis O'Brien also controls a number of radio stations.

According to a study carried out by the Irish newspaper publishers, 70 percent of the population still reads newspapers on a regular basis. But online news sites such as thejournal.ie are also increasingly popular. The Irish are also enthusiastic radio listeners: About 85 percent of the population regularly listen to one of the English or Gaelic-language stations.RTE is the semi-state owned, national public service broadcaster in Ireland. It has various radio stations and television channels, but also has a strong online presence. RTE programmes are financed by a broadcasting licence fee as well as advertising.

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.

Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders):
Rank 16 (2018)

Last updated: May 2018
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