Publishers call for urgent review of defamation laws

Publishers call for urgent review of defamation laws
Ann Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland, speaking at the event.

News publishers have united at an Oireachtas event to highlight the challenges facing journalism in Ireland.

More than 30 representatives from Ireland’s local and national news publishing industry - including CEOs, editors, and journalists - attended the event.

Organised by NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland, the representative bodies for the national and local news publishing industries, the group highlighted practical steps the government could take to ensure a sustainable future for journalism in Ireland.

The suggestions included:

  • Reduce VAT on print and digital newspapers to 5% in Budget 2020.
    Ultimately reduce VAT on printed newspapers to 0% as is the case in Britain and other EU countries.
  • Complete the long overdue review of the Defamation Act. It’s now almost three years since the review was announced and 40 submissions were made to the Department of Justice.
    The laws, as they currently are, have a chilling effect on democracy and a free press.
  • Extend the brief of the Minister for Communications to include all media and not just the broadcast sector , ensuring the Minister has full oversight of our complex and ever evolving media landscape and public service journalism is supported across all media.

The event was attended by a number of politicians including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Social Democrats leader Catherine Murphy and Government ministers Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee.

Speaking at the event, Ann Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland, said:

"Outdated defamation laws, high taxes and the dominance of certain online platforms are not just biting into the Irish newspaper industry’s margins, they are restricting our industry’s ability to invest in producing quality journalism."

"At a time when there is an even greater need for citizens to have access to information produced by professional journalists, it is more important than ever that the Government demonstrates its commitment to the value of quality, legacy journalism and the public service role played by news publishers."

David Ryan, President of Local Ireland, added: "Our titles are newspapers of record in their communities.

"We are trusted to record and report local news and sport. As you know we lead on issues that are important to our communities.

"Imagine a community without a local paper, no local government reporting, no health, education, court, sports covering, leaving a huge democratic deficit."

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