Policy Issues

Policy Issues

NewsBrands Ireland believes that Irish national newspapers and their asociated news websites and apps are vital to the democracy of our state and the literacy of people in Ireland, particularly younger people.

We represent the interests of our members on a wide range of industry issues including copyright, Vat, broadcasting, freedom of the press, advertising, privacy and the environment.

To read more about our position and work on any of these subjects please choose the relevant topic from the menu below.

– Strasbourg, 26 March 2019 –


Europe’s press publishers welcome MEPs’ adoption in Plenary in Strasbourg today, Tuesday, 26 March, of the EU Copyright Directive – a copyright reform that is crucial for the future of a healthy, independent press sector, a fair digital ecosystem and a content-rich internet.

Carlo Perrone, President of ENPA (European Newspaper Publishers’ Association) said: “This is an historic vote for Europe’s soul and culture. After more than two years of debate and scrutiny, fairness has prevailed in the form of a copyright reform that will be essential for the future of press publishing and professional journalism. Thanks to this directive, web users are now guaranteed a pluralist and democratic internet in the years to come.”

Xavier Bouckaert President of EMMA (European Magazine Media Association) said: “This is a vote against content theft. Publishers of all sizes and other creators will now have the right to set terms and conditions for others to re-use their content commercially, as is only fair and appropriate.”

Christian Van Thillo, Chairman of the EPC (European Publishers Council) said: “This text modernises copyright without stifling digital innovation. As press publishers, we would like to thank Europe’s regulators for adopting this important directive that acknowledges the value of the press to society and the need for fair remuneration for the commercial re-use of our intellectual property.”

Fernando de Yarza Lopez Madrazo, President of News Media Europe (NME) said: “This directive will help forge a healthier working relationship between creators and platforms and will help news publishers continue to invest in the creation of fact-checked, professional content to enrich the internet and benefit consumers.”

Next steps: the directive has to be formally approved by the Council

Please find attached NewsBrands Ireland’s Vat submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on Budget 2015.


Please find attached the views of European press publishers on Google’s second round of commitment proposals to the European Commission as part of the on-going EC investigation into certain business practices by Google .

Also attached is a press release issued by European publishers, including NewsBrands Ireland.


  • Reduced rate of VAT reflects newspapers’ unique role in society and education
  • VAT on newspapers “an unfair form of reading tax” says NNI

National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) has urged the Minister for Finance to reduce the rate of VAT on newspapers, a move it says would bring Ireland into line with the UK and many EU countries, whilst also supporting NNI’s Newspapers in Education (NiE) programme.

Printed newspapers in Ireland are subject to 9% VAT, a reduced rate, introduced by Government in 2011.  However in the UK and many EU countries, the unique role of newspapers in society and as an educational tool is reflected by a zero rate of VAT.

In support of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy amongst Young People, NNI established an NiE programme last year with the launch of NNI Press Pass. NNI has invested in excess of 200,000 euro to date in the initiative which is aimed at transition year students.  Designed to improve students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills, NNI Press Pass has been hugely successful and its inclusion in the Junior Cycle curriculum from 2014 will benefit thousands of children in the coming years.

This year an extra 10,000 Transition Year students have signed up to participate in bringing the total to 25,000. Research shows that young readers’ programmes, such as NNI Press Pass, positively influence students’ motivation, literacy levels, academic skills and classroom communications. Newspapers help students to understand their local society, open a window on the wider world and provide a basis for active citizenship. The application of a zero rate of VAT on newspapers could greatly enhance NNI’s NiE programme, making newspapers more affordable to families who are under increasing economic pressure.  It would also help to encourage young people to maintain the newspaper reading habit going forward across all available platforms.

While printed newspapers are subject to a 9% rate of VAT, online editions are charged at a rate of 23%. NNI publishers have invested heavily in multi-platform content delivery, however content accessed through any other means than print is subject to the 23% VAT rate. NNI has asked the Minister to use his influence at EU level to try to ensure a harmonisation of VAT rates on both print and online editions.

The newspaper industry directly employs more than 4,500 people in Ireland and contributes more than €800 million per year to the economy, with thousands of other associated and spin-off jobs – printing, distribution, advertising etc – also dependent on the sector.

Apart from the economic/employment aspect, newspapers remain a vital component of Irish society. Not only are newspapers essential to a healthy democracy – holding governments and public bodies accountable – they also provide citizens with an understanding of their rights and responsibilities within the democratic process.

“Our view has always been that VAT on newspapers represents a ‘reading tax’ – an unfair levy on information – which not only interferes with newspapers’ role as a democratic watchdog but makes newspapers less accessible to the public.

“We are calling on the Minister for Finance to further reduce the rate of VAT on printed newspapers in recognition of the unique role that newspapers play within the democratic process and as integral part of Ireland’s education system going forward,” says Frank Cullen, Co-ordinating Director NNI.

To satisfy on-going customer demands, changing reading habits and to serve readers on a multitude of platforms, Irish publishers continue to invest in new technologies and innovative delivery methods whilst maintaining investment in quality content.  Meanwhile, as with publishers across the world, they are working to develop paid-for offerings in the digital environment

NNI believes that at a time when the Internet is too often characterised by free, unauthorised content, it is more important than ever that effective copyright protection and enforcement exists. This protection and enforcement will allow publishers to continue to invest in providing professional news content on all platforms.

The Irish legal and policy framework should ensure that the future of newspaper is not undermined by any new exceptions or by a lower level of protection of publishers’ rights.