The media world has been transformed in recent years and the various media players are competing with each other, as never before.
Newspapers and other private sector media companies now compete directly with broadcasters, including RTE. As the public service broadcaster, RTE has the benefit of significant public funding whilst also operating as a commercial broadcaster. This creates a situation in which the Irish media market does not facilitate fair competition.
For example, RTE can avail of publically-funded content and offer it for free on its website and apps whilst exploiting the commercial opportunities associated with that content. A newspaper publisher, on the other hand, has to pay for content out of its own resources.
NewsBrands Ireland believes that RTÉ should not be permitted to exploit commercial opportunities where this unfairly impacts on its private sector competitors. Public money should not be used to provide free news services that jeopardise the investments of independent news media and hold back the development of financially sustainable business models.
The Broadcasting legislation requires that RTE’s public service remit be clearly defined and that transactions between public service and commercial activities be conducted at arms’ length. NewsBrands Ireland has repeatedly called for greater clarity and transparency in this regard.
NewsBrands Ireland will continue to urge the Minister for Communications to address NNI’s concerns and ask the Minister to fully exercise his powers to confirm and secure compliance with the broadcasting legislation. Irish newspapers and other players in the independent media sector are entitled to a reassurance that RTÉ is fully complying with the EU State aid rules and the specific requirements of the legislation.