For the first time main source of News for Irish public is Online rather than Television – Digital News Report Ireland 2024

Significant increase in the number of people aged 18-24 paying for digital news content.

More people in Ireland consume their news online than through any other medium, including television. This is the first time that news online has become more popular than television news in Ireland according to the annual Digital News Report Ireland.

The report, to be published today by Coimisiún na Meán, also reveals that the number of Irish news consumers who paid to access news content increased in 2024.  This was especially true for 18 – 24-year-olds where an increase of seven percentage points, up to 26% from 19%, in people paying for digital news content was recorded.

The study also found that there is evidence of real concern about what is real/what is fake online, with the number of people expressing concern up seven percentage points since 2023 (71%).

Commenting, Media Development Commissioner for Coimisiún na Meán, Rónán Ó Domhnaill said: “It is encouraging to see that overall trust in news remains high in Ireland compared to other international regions, this year 46% of respondents reported that they can trust most news most of the time. The continuing trend toward news consumption online presents both opportunities and challenges for the media in Ireland. This year’s Digital News Report Ireland serves as a valuable dataset, to help ensure that the transition to news online is implemented in a structured and successful manner.”

“Coimisiún na Meán’s support for journalism in Ireland continues. We recently concluded a public consultation on two new journalism schemes supporting high quality coverage, in both Irish and English, of local authorities and Circuit and District Court hearings. These schemes, and an ancillary funding measure, are due to commence this summer financed by a fund of €6 million allocated from the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, Catherine Martin TD.” 

Research for the Digital News Report is undertaken by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and is the largest ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world. The Irish data forms part of the larger survey, which this year is conducted in 47 markets. Ireland’s participation has been facilitated this year by Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s commission for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services and online media, and supporting media development. Analysis of the Irish data is provided by researchers from the DCU Institute for Future Media, Democracy and Society (FuJo).

Key findings from this year’s report include:

Interest in News: Irish consumers retain their interest in news. Some 88% of respondents were either ‘extremely’, ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ interested in news. This is higher than in the UK (82%), the US (84%), or when measured against the European average (85%).  However, if only the two categories of ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ interested in news, are selected, then there is a significant difference between those who are aged 18-24, who register at 30% and those who are 65+, who register at 73%. There are also major differences between the genders with men registering 61% (extremely’ or ‘very’ interested in news), and women 46% (extremely’ or ‘very’ interested in news). 

Trust in News: Trust in news is down slightly overall, but selected outlets have seen a rise in their percentage points.  At the top of this ranking, RTÉ (+1pp) and The Irish Times (+2pp) remain the most trusted outlets.

Source of News: For the first time ‘online, excluding social media’ (33%) has overtaken TV viewing (31%) as ‘the main source of news’.

Paying for News: There has been an increase of two percentage points (from 15% to 17%) among Irish news consumers who have paid to access news content in 2024. News subscriber numbers are behind the US, but ahead of the UK and European average. There has been a significant increase of seven percentage points in the number of people aged 18-24 paying for digital news content.

Artificial Intelligence: 44% of respondents say they have read or heard a ‘large’ or ‘moderate’ amount about AI. A further 41% say they know ‘a small amount’ and 10% say they know ‘nothing at all’. 56% of media consumers are uncomfortable with news being produced ‘mostly by AI’ with only ‘some human oversight’.

False or misleading information: Respondents said they had seen the most false or misleading information in the previous week about the Israel-Palestine conflict (38%). This increased to 43% among the under 35s. Coverage of immigration was close behind, with 37% (38% for over 35s).

Professor Colleen Murrell of the FuJo Institute also commented on the report adding: “Misinformation and disinformation are growing and in this report, we ask a series of questions to establish how difficult people find it to verify the online news that they read. In order to unpack the data on current media issues, we often dig deeper to understand the differences caused by age, gender and education. While it is usual to find that younger people are more at ease with online challenges, older people often surprise with their ability to adapt to new sources of information.”

The Digital News Report Ireland 2024 can be found here. The infographic illustrating some key findings of the report is available here.

Global online safety regulators map out vision to improve international coordination

More countries also join regulatory network as cross-border collaboration continues to grow

Online safety regulators from around the world have today outlined their vision for how international regulatory approaches to online safety can be more coherent and coordinated.  

The Global Online Safety Regulators Network brings together 18 regulators and observers from five continents. The Network has today published its second position statement on how regulators will work together to address the global nature of online safety regulation.

While each of the countries in the Network has its own domestic online safety regime, neither the risks people face online nor the online services they use are confined to national or continental borders. For those reasons, we are working together on developing our regulatory capability and approaches, to achieve the outcomes set out in our respective online safety rules.

Although our regulatory regimes differ in some ways, our frameworks are similar in several key respects.

By mapping the similarities in our regulatory remits, the Network has identified opportunities in multiple areas to pursue coherence between our respective regimes. These include:

  • Regulatory tools: We will aim to develop common metrics for our risk assessment methodologies and evaluation approaches, to minimise unwarranted divergences between them.
  • User complaints: Those of us collecting user complaints will share our experience and evidence. Where there are instances of systemic non-compliance across jurisdictions, the Network might consider working more closely on investigations and enforcement action.
  • Information requests: We will aim to produce more comparable global data that better informs our trend analysis, by coordinating in relation to the types of questions we ask of industry as part of our regulatory activities
  • Safety measures: We will aim to identify a common set of reasonable steps services can take to address specific harms and risk factors by drawing on our experiences of good practice

Online Safety Commissioner for Coimisiún na Meán, Niamh Hodnett, said: “Working in partnership with our fellow global regulators is critical to help us reach our goal of making the online space safer for all users. Since the internet has no borders, our joint activities and workstreams with online safety regulators around the world enable us to share learnings and foster a coherent regulatory framework.”

Notes: 

The Global Online Safety Regulators Network is a collaboration between the first movers in online safety regulation. The Network paves the way for a coherent international approach to online safety regulation, by enabling online safety regulators to share insights, experience and best practices.  

Current Network members include: 

Members share a commitment to act independently of commercial and political influence and adhere to objective criteria for respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The Network is also open to observers – specifically organisations that have expertise and interest with online safety regulation and who wish to follow and engage with the Network. 

Current observers include: 

For further information about the Global Online Safety Regulators Network please contact the current Chair, Ofcom at ofcom.international@ofcom.org.uk.

Coimisiún na Meán publishes Information Pack for all election candidates

Coimisiún na Meán has today (23.05.2024) published an Information Pack for all election candidates in the upcoming Local and European elections. The aim of this pack is to provide information on the role of Coimisiún na Meán and to offer guidance for candidates on what to do when they are faced with harmful and/or illegal content online. The Pack includes further information on the rights of users under the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the reporting channels for various platforms.

The information pack will be shared with political parties and is also available on the Coimisiún na Meán website here and across An Coimisiún’s social media channels, for candidates to access easily. Coimisiún na Meán recognises that during election times, candidates are at an increased risk of suffering online harm. Under the DSA, very large online platforms and search engines have a duty to assess risks that their services may pose. This includes a risk to civic discourse and the electoral process. The main message for Coimisiún na Meán to election candidates is to report content they think is illegal or a breach of a platform’s own rules directly to the platform. Following that, if candidates believe that the platforms have not actioned illegal content once reported, they can make a complaint to Coimisiún na Meán via the contact centre. Any immediate threats or risks to life should be reported straight to the Gardaí.

As part of Coimisiún na Meán’s commitment to ensure a thriving, diverse, creative, trusted, and safe media landscape we want to ensure that a variety of voices and opinions to be heard during election times, and which support the agency of voters to make a free and informed choice. This is done in a number of ways, including through the regulation of broadcasters by way of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality and the regulation of online platforms through An Coimisiún’s Online Safety Framework, principally the Digital Services Act.

Coimisiún na Meán will ensure that online platforms are responsible for how they enforce their own policies and how they meet their DSA obligations. The June elections will be the first to take place since An Coimisiún commenced the role of Digital Services Coordinator in February this year.

Coimisiún na Meán publishes updated guidelines for broadcast  coverage of elections

Coimisiún na Meán has today (30.04.24) published its Guidelines in Respect of Broadcast Coverage of Elections. The Guidelines provide direction and advice to broadcasters as to how fairness, objectivity and impartiality can be achieved in their coverage of elections.

The Guidelines are being published in advance of the European and Local Elections and the election for a directly elected Mayor of Limerick, scheduled to take place on 7th June next. The Guidelines come into effect from Tuesday 7th May 2024 and apply to coverage of the elections until the closing of polling stations on 7th June 2024.

The Guidelines highlight different approaches that may be taken to the allocation of airtime for coverage of candidates and political parties as well as the risks of ‘deepfakes’. Existing provisions are retained which relate to the management of conflicts of interest, the prohibition on political advertising and coverage of opinion polls.

Other matters addressed include on-air contributions via social media and a prohibition on broadcasters and presenters encouraging listeners or viewers to vote in support of or against any particular outcome in the elections. The Guidelines also encourage broadcasters to include a range of voices and opinions in their coverage, including a mix of views representing social, gender and cultural diversity.

Speaking about the publication of the Guidelines, Coimisiún na Meán’s Media Development Commissioner, Rónán Ó Domhnaill said: “Broadcasters play an important and valuable role in communicating information about elections to the Irish public. This is achieved via accurate, fair, objective and impartial coverage.

“The Guidelines retain the moratorium on election coverage. This requires broadcasters to limit coverage of the elections from 2pm on the day prior to an election or referendum and remains in place until the closing of the polls on the day of the election or referendum (10pm).

“When the statutory review of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, which provides the basis for the Guidelines, was undertaken in 2022, there was a clear call from industry stakeholders for the moratorium to be removed, while public stakeholders had mixed views about its retention or removal.  Having regard to these findings, Coimisiún na Meán has committed to carrying out a review of the broadcast moratorium in the second half of this year, including the undertaking of a public consultation. It is intended to complete this review and publish updated Guidelines dealing with the moratorium in Quarter 4 2024, if warranted by the review.’’

  • The Guidelines in Respect of Coverage of Elections are available for download here
  • The Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality is available to download here

Coimisiún na Meán allocates almost €800k in funding to support a range of media activities

50 projects supported under Sectoral Learning and Development Programme and Sponsorship Scheme

A creative media programme focusing on young people from under-represented, low income and ethnic minorities (Gorm Media’s Wideshot programme) and a talent development network addressing the lack of gender diversity in the Irish screen industry (X-Pollinator) are among the projects to be funded under Coimisiún na Meán’s Sectoral Learning and Development Programme and Sponsorship Scheme.

Both funding programmes support organisations, networks and representative groups to deliver a range of initiatives, training programmes, events and activities across the media sector. In all, almost €800k has been awarded to 50 projects this year.

Some €550k has been allocated under the Sectoral Learning and Development Programme to enhance media sustainability, creativity and diversity. Nineteen networks, representing commercial and community media; industry specific groups such as producers, animators, and journalists; advocacy organisations for gender, equality and inclusion, and promotion of the Irish language, have secured funding.

The Learning Waves Journalism Graduate Programme will continue to be supported under the Sectoral Learning and Development Programme in 2024. This programme sees 10 journalism graduates from across Ireland awarded an internship in a local commercial radio station. A focus of the 2024 programme will be news content for multiple platforms, scriptwriting for news, court reporting, and the promotion and creating of Irish language content.

Separately, more than €245k in funding has been awarded to 30 applicants under Coimisiún na Meán’s Sponsorship Scheme. This supports media-related events and activities that align with and raise awareness of the role and work of An Coimisiún. Sponsored events include festivals that increase the prominence of culturally relevant audiovisual content for Irish audiences, and award ceremonies highlighting the diverse talent and creativity across the media sector.  Sponsored events focusing on other aspects of Coimisiún na Meán’s remit include a media literacy workshop, the Mental Health Media Awards, and a Children & Young People’s Assembly on Online Bullying.

Commenting, Media Development Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill said: “Coimisiún na Meán is delighted to be in a position to invest more than three-quarters of a million euro in supporting Irish media through the Sectoral Learning and Development Programme and Sponsorship Scheme this year.

The funded projects align with our aim to develop a thriving, diverse and safe media landscape. These are hugely valuable projects that work to enrich our media sphere for viewers and listeners “

Commenting on its funding allocation, Learning Waves Project Manager Teresa Hanratty said: “We are thrilled to have secured funding again this year for our Journalism Graduate Programme. An Coimisiún’s funding and development programmes are of huge importance to the media sector and our award this year enables us to continue our internship programme, providing a pathway for new journalists to gain invaluable experience and also a pipeline of new talent for the independent radio sector. The impact of the programme was recognised by the Institute of Learning and Development at Learning and Development Awards in September 2023 when it was awarded Best Graduate Development Initiative. This award underlines the significant impact this programme has on graduates and stations across the Independent Radio Sector in Ireland.” The full list of successful funding recipients for 2024 under the Coimisiún na Meán Sectoral Learning and Development Programme and Sponsorship Scheme can be found here.

European Commission proceedings against Tik Tok for possible breaches of EU Digital Services Act

Coimisiún na Meán is aware that the European Commission has initiated formal proceedings against Tik Tok for possible breaches of the Digital Services Act (DSA). Coimisiún na Meán will provide assistance to the European Commission in this investigation.

Coimisiún na Meán is Ireland’s body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services, and online media, and supporting media development. On Saturday last (17.02.2024) An Coimisiún welcomed the application of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) which is now fully in force in Ireland. The DSA provides new rules for how online services deal with illegal content or apply their own rules.

Under the DSA, the responsibility for supervising Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines is shared between the European Commission and the regulator of the EU Member State where the service has its EU headquarters. Thirteen out of twenty two Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines designated so far, including Tik Tok, have their EU headquarters in Ireland.

Coimisiún na Meán is working closely with the European Commission and other European regulators and today (19.02.2024) attended the inaugural meeting of the European Digital Services Board. The European Board for Digital Services Board is an independent advisory group formed by the European Commission and Member State Digital Service Coordinators, to ensure that the DSA is applied consistently, and that users across the EU enjoy the same rights, regardless of where the online platforms are established.

The Board will be consulted on the enforcement of the DSA and advise on arising issues related to the DSA and can contribute to guidelines and analysis. It will also assist in the supervision of Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines and will issue yearly reports on the prominent systemic risks and best practices in mitigating them.

Coimisiún na Meán welcomes application of the EU Digital Services Act

New EU rules will apply to online services from the 17th of February 2024.

Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services, and online media, and supporting media development, has today (16.02.2023) welcomed the imminent application of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) which comes fully into force in Ireland and across the EU from tomorrow (17.02.2024). The DSA provides new rules for how online services deal with illegal content or apply their own rules.

The DSA, Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Act 2022 and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation (TCOR) come together to form Coimisiún na Meán’s overall Online Safety Framework. This Framework will make digital services accountable for how they protect people, especially children, from harm online and will be used to enforce rules about how online services deal with illegal or harmful content.

Coimisiún na Meán will open its user contact centre on February 19th 2024.The contact centre will provide advice to users on their rights under the Digital Services Act and gather intelligence that will inform An Coimisiún’s supervisory and enforcement activities. When users spot illegal content online, they should flag it to the platform, and the platform will have a duty to stop it.

Commenting, Executive Chairperson of Coimisiún na Meán, Jeremy Godfrey said: “The DSA will form a key part of Coimisiún na Meán’s Online Safety Framework. We will enforce the DSA, so that platforms are accountable for protecting users online, minimising children’s exposure to harmful content and upholding fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.”  

In addition, the DSA provides a framework for cooperation between the EU Commission and national regulatory authorities across Europe. Coimisiún na Meán is responsible for regulating services which have their EU headquarters in Ireland, and the European Commission plays a role in overseeing the largest platforms and search engines.

The Digital Service Commissioner John Evans said: “The DSA will empower people and civil society groups to hold platforms to account for dealing with illegal content. People should remember when they spot illegal content, to flag it, so the platform can stop it. We will engage with platforms large and small to ensure that they live up to their legal obligations. As Ireland’s Digital Services Coordinator, we look forward to working closely with the European Commission and our regulatory counterparts across Europe to ensure that these new rules drive improvements in online safety and ensure that people can continue to enjoy the benefits of being online.”

Sound & Vision 4 – Upcoming Funding Rounds Announced 

Coimisiún na Meán has announced details of upcoming funding rounds under the Sound & Vision 4 Scheme.  

Round 53 – Sound & Vision ‘Open’ Round 

Round 53 will open on 9th April for broadcasters and independent producers to support the production of culturally valuable broadcast content, including content in the Irish language. This round closes at noon on Thursday, 30th May 2024. It is envisaged that funding decisions will be available in August 2024.

Round 54 – Sound & Vision ‘Open’ Round

Round 54 will open on 15th October for broadcasters and independent producers to support the production of culturally valuable broadcast content, including content in the Irish language. This round closes at noon on Thursday, 28th November 2024. It is envisaged that funding decisions will be available by late February 2025.

Relevant Guidelines and Application Forms for each round will be published on the Coimisiún na Meán website on the round opening date.  Webinars for prospective applicants will also be held.  All applications must be submitted via www.cnamonline.ie   

Sound & Vision 4Opening DateApplicant WebinarClosing DateDecisions Expected
Round 53Tuesday
9th April 2024
Tuesday 16th April 2024Thursday
30th May
12 noon
August 2024
Round 54Tuesday
15th October 2024
Tuesday
22nd October 2024
Thursday
28th November
12 noon
Late February 2025

For any Sound & Vision specific enquires please contact: info@cnam.ie

Letter to editor regarding age verification and media commentary in relation to draft Online Safety Code

Copy of a letter sent to the editor of the Irish Times by Executive Chair Jeremy Godfrey on January 25th.

Karlin Lillington’s technology column of January 25th in the Irish Times badly mischaracterises Coimisiún na Meán’s proposals in relation to age verification by online video-sharing platforms.

She accuses us of proposing to create a porn user register and repeats baseless online claims that people would have to upload their identity documents and facial scans, with porn sites retaining this information for six years. She even suggests that this could be required when people only want to view cat videos.

She rightly says that such a proposal would be bonkers. We agree. Which is why we have neither considered it nor proposed it.

There is ample evidence of the harm caused by children having easy access to online pornography, but measures to reduce this access need to respect the privacy of users and interfere as little as possible with the ability of adults to view content that is lawful.

Coimisiún na Meán is currently consulting on a draft Online Safety Code for video-sharing platforms, including age verification measures. Our proposal is that video-sharing platforms based in Ireland should not knowingly show pornographic content to users, unless they have verified that the user concerned is an adult.

Most platforms in Ireland do not permit pornography, and this proposal will have no implications for them or their users. Even platforms that do permit pornography would need only to verify the age of those users who wish to view it. Users whose interests are limited to cat videos would have no need to verify their age.

We are not proposing to be prescriptive about the age verification technique that platforms must use before showing pornography to users. It is for platforms to choose a technique that ensures children are not normally able to access pornography, and to implement it in a way that complies with the GDPR. Uploading documents and/or a live selfie is one such technique, when accompanied by appropriate privacy protections.

But merely asking a user to declare they are over 18 is not good enough to stop children from accessing pornography. This is a widespread concern across Europe, and applies to adult sites in other Member States. We are therefore working with the European Commission and our counterparts across Europe to ensure that there is a pan-European approach to tackling this issue.

We are committed to improving online safety, as part of a thriving, diverse and safe media landscape. While regulating licensed broadcasters is different to regulating online platforms, the end-goal of ensuring that audiences can access pluralistic, culturally, linguistically and socially relevant content, while being protected from harm, remains the same. We are focused on delivering on our mission for the benefit of everyone in Ireland and across Europe.