Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht

Future of Public Service Broadcasting and Impact of Covid-19 on the Media Sector: Discussion

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I have a final few questions. First, I thank the three witnesses for their presentations. I will begin with you, Mr. Dooley. You made your point loud and clear to the committee that talk is cheap and that investment is required. Nobody in this room does not appreciate the organisations and journalists you represent. My local newspapers are The Anglo-Celt and Northern Standard, and I believe Michael Fisher is heavily involved with your organisation. Many houses are very much dependent on those media outlets for information, more so than on theIrish Independentor the national newspapers. The pandemic has given all of us a new appreciation of media and the traditional media outlets.

The American presidential election has put a new emphasis on, and given impetus to, what has been fake news. I appreciate the campaign RTÉ has been running on real journalism and how journalism matters. That message is coming through loud and clear. The public has become more aware of that and is more reliant on the reliable, credible sources of information.

Mr. Purcell, with regard to Northern Sound Radio and Shannonside, a vacuum was created as a result of the restrictions due to the pandemic, with people not being able to visit each other and being lonely in their homes. Northern Sound Radio and similar stations across the country certainly filled that vacuum. They created support and comfort. Undoubtedly, there is a newfound appreciation for the local radio stations. There was a generational gap, perhaps, in terms of the younger generation, and that generation has become more familiar with their local radio stations and their local newspapers.

I know that Northern Sound and The Anglo-Celthave brought their information online and that has helped to reach the younger generation. The pandemic has brought our appreciation of those media to the fore.

I have a specific question for Mr. Dooley about An Post and the delivery of newspapers. As some of my colleagues have alluded to, perhaps some ordinary newspaper outlets have been closed, or whatever, during the restrictions. Have we any figures that show the impact or otherwise of the restrictions on the delivery of newspapers by An Post?


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