Minister disputes idea that media owners can be forced to sell

The Communications Minister Denis Naughten has suggested it is not legally possible to force media owners to sell their outlets.

Minister disputes idea that media owners can be forced to sell

The Communications Minister Denis Naughten has suggested it is not legally possible to force media owners to sell their outlets.

It comes after a report raised concerns about media ownership in Ireland.

The report says too much media is owned by either RTÉ or businessman Denis O'Brien.

It rejects claims that it would be legally impossible to force Mr O'Brien or other owners to sell some of their outlets.

However, Minister Naughten disagrees, saying: "I think what is bizarre about the report, I know Lynn Boylan used legal expertise from the UK and from Northern Ireland, but they have dismissed the constitutional issues that we have here in Ireland to retrospective legislation.

"I don’t know what the logic or how they can dismiss the constitutional challenges."

The report launched on Monday recommended a Commission of Inquiry into media ownership in Ireland.

The study was commissioned by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, and carried out by two independent legal firms.

It raises concerns about the high level of media ownership by businessman Denis O'Brien, as a result of his "significant minority stake" in Independent News and Media and "substantial holdings" in commercial radio.

It also recommends that a Commission of Inquiry looks at the role of RTÉ as a public service broadcaster, and what is described as the "chilling effect" of current defamation laws.

The report authors conclude that they "anticipate that the Commission will at the outset need to grapple with the question of what definition of media pluralism to adopt, and to consider and systematically identify which concrete indicators it considers necessary in order to measure media pluralism in Ireland".

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