BAI publishes new policy on media plurality and revised Ownership and Control Policy

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has, today (18.06.19), published a new policy on Media Plurality and a revised Ownership and Control Policy.

The publication of the documents follows a public consultation process, launched in December 2018, during which stakeholders and members of the public were invited to make submissions to the BAI on the draft policies.

BAI Media Plurality Policy

The primary purpose of the Media Plurality Policy is to set out how the Authority will support and promote media plurality, a key objective within the BAI Strategy Statement 2017 – 2019.

The policy provides context for the BAI’s role in respect of media plurality; provides a definition for media plurality; outlines why media plurality is important; details policy objectives; and outlines the measures the BAI takes – and will continue to take – to promote and support media plurality in Ireland.

Commenting, Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe said: “Media pluralism makes an important contribution to a well-functioning society. Where media plurality is healthy, it ensures that citizens have access to a variety of information sources, opinions and voices, including sources of news and current affairs. Healthy pluralism can also reduce the undue influence of media and other political, social and commercial organisations or individuals in the formation of public views, including views on the political process.”

“The primary purpose of the BAI Media Plurality Policy is to articulate how the BAI understands media plurality and detail the ways in which the BAI will foster and support a healthy degree of media plurality in Ireland through our regulatory activities.” added Mr O’Keeffe.

Ownership and Control Policy

This policy gives practical effect to the obligations set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009 which the BAI must consider when deciding on the most suitable applicant for the award of a radio or television service contract. It is also used by the BAI to assess requests for changes to the ownership and control of existing broadcasting services, for example, changes in shareholdings and directors. The policy provides guidance and rules for the BAI when considering the desirability of allowing any person, or group of persons, to have control of, or substantial interests in, an undue number of media services in the Irish State.

When making decisions under this policy, the BAI will have regard to a number of factors, including the character, experience and expertise of the applicant for a broadcasting service, the financial and other resources that they will bring, as well as the type of programming an applicant proposes to broadcast.

On launching the revised policy, Mr O’Keeffe said: “The BAI’s revised Ownership and Control Policy has been designed to facilitate the continued development of a viable, sustainable and diverse broadcasting sector, characterised by a plurality of ownership. The policy is also designed to provide clarity and certainty in respect of the regulatory approach to be adopted and the rules that will apply.  Overall, the Authority believes that the revised policy balances the needs of a continually evolving, indigenous broadcasting sector with the BAI’s requirement to ensure plurality. Importantly, this policy and its application is one of the central ways by which the BAI promotes and supports media plurality in Ireland.”

“In considering the consultation submissions, the BAI gave careful consideration to requests to relax the current limits on ownership of the commercial radio sector. Under the policy, no more than 25% of commercial radio services can be owned by any one individual or group and no group currently owns more than 20%. While acknowledging the rapid evolution of the media environment, the BAI remains of the view that this upper limit is appropriate, and it is retained in the revised policy.” added Mr O’Keeffe.


Contact: Tony Heffernan / Sebastian Enke, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2399508 / 087-3239496

Note for Editors:

  • The Media Plurality Policy  can be found here and the revised Ownership and Control Policy can be found here.
  • The consultation on the Media Plurality Policy and the Ownership and Control Policy ran from 11th December 2018 until 30th January 2019 and a total of 17 submissions were received.
  • The Statement of Outcomes on the consultation on the Media Plurality Policy can be found here and for the Ownership and Control Policy here.
  • The submissions received on the public consultation on the Media Plurality Policy can be found here and for the Ownership and Control Policy here.
  • The implementation date for the BAI’s Ownership and Control Policy will be the 2nd September 2019.