Delegates from Local Ireland, the organisation representing local newspapers around the country, visited the Seanad to make submissions to the Joint Oireachtas Committee with responsibility for media.

The special event, which was part of the 100-year anniversary celebrations for the Seanad, was organised by the chair of the committee Deputy Niamh Smyth, TD for Cavan-Monaghan.

Several media groups and associations attended the session which was on the theme of Future Business Model Plans and Long-Term Vision for the Media.

Local newspapers were represented by the Editor of the Anglo-Celt Linda O’Reilly, CEO of Celtic Media Group Frank Mulrennan and Local Ireland Executive Director Bob Hughes.

Mr Hughes said: “We were grateful to Ministers and politicians from all sections of the Oireachtas for the abolition of VAT on newspapers but further support is needed.

“We continue to face serious economic challenges, including the migration of advertising to the tech giants, disruption to the economy during COVID-19 from which we have not fully recovered, and now the cost of living crisis, which hits both our advertisers and our readers.

“Circulation and advertising are still in decline but we must invest in our transition to digital models in order to protect our newspapers and our journalists for the communities we support.

“Journalism is in crisis but we are hopeful that the recommendations of the Future of the Media Commission will be implemented.

“The new media commission – Coimisiún na Meán – will establish supports for print media around community coverage, training in journalism and digital skills, diversity, accessibility and media literacy.”

Members of the Oireachtas Committee were told that the EU Digital Markets Act and Article 15 of the EU Copyright Directive should be implemented fully by the Department of Trade and Enterprise to ensure fair remuneration for news publishers from the tech platforms that use their content.

Local Ireland delegates also looked forward to the reform of the current defamation legislation and urged Government departments and agencies to offer a fair share of their media advertising to local news publishers.

Left to right Linda O’Reilly, Editor of the Anglo-Celt, Executive Director of Local Ireland Bob Hughes, Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media Niamh Smyth TD and CEO of Celtic Media Group Frank Mulrennan.

The committee proceedings can be viewed here https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/oireachtas-tv/video-archive/committees/6843/

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