Should Public Funds Finance Irish Private Media?


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9:00 am - 3:00 pm


Dublin City University


The “advertising-for-journalism” model which has funded print and broadcast media since the 18th century is manifestly under threat as advertising revenues decline and online competition cuts into existing market shares. Although digital revenues are increasing these do not compensate for losses elsewhere. As a consequence Irish media increasingly face the threat of either closure or radical “restructuring” (often in the wake of consolidation of ownership). This clearly poses a challenge to the sustainability of the public sphere.

Although there may be ideological objections to using public funds to shore up private media, the calamitous state of legacy media raises the question of whether the political functions – both as watchdogs and as spaces for debate – performed by mainstream commercial media are too important to be allowed to simply collapse under commercial pressures. This symposium gathers academic, policy and industry perspectives together to consider whether we need to financially support all media from public funds, what specific functions should be protected within media and how we might go about doing this.

The day will run from 9am till 3pm with breaks for coffee and lunch (provided). The symposium is organised around three keynote talks from invited speakers (see below) each followed by panel discussions comprised of figures from industry, policy/regulatory backgrounds and academia. Questions from the floor and media attendance will be welcome.

The three speakers are:

Jorgen Ramskov on “Establishing a publicly-funded but privately-owned radio station in Copenhagen“. Jorgen is the exective director of Radio24syv, a public service Copenhagen-based radio station established in 2011 following a competition to secure the licence. Jorgen graduated from the Danish School of Journalism in 1988 and has worked as a journalist, producer and director at both the Danish public service broadcasters, DR and TV2. He has also worked with the Danish Film Institute and Nimbus film, which produced several of the key films in the Dogme ’95 sequence

Jeanette Steemers on “International models for public funding of private media“. Jeanette is Professor of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at Kings College, London, but in a previous incarnation worked in television distribution. Her core research research interests include the the study of Public Service Media, the political economy of children’s media and more broadly media as industries. In addition to co-editing “European Media in Crisis: Values, Risks and Policies” (Routledge 2015) she has recently published a study on policy solutions for the funding of Public Service Content for children.

Steven Barnett on “What media functions need to be protected and how can we do this?” Steven is Professor of Communications at Westminister University where he has worked since 1994. His work concentrates on media policy and regulation and he has produced a series of reports on media funding, structures and regulation over the past two decades. His chapter in “Plurality and public sector broadcasting: why and how PSBs deserve protection” (which he also edited) argued for a defence of the role of PSBs but he has recently written extensively on innovative models for supporting local media and on what public interest functions performed by the media should be singled out for protection.

This symposium has been made possible by funding from the DCU Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Workshop Scheme 2017.

The symposium will take place in Room CG86, Ground Floor Henry Grattan Building, DCU Glasnevin Campus.

To register, please sign up here.