MA in Political Communications

DCU-led Media Ownership Monitor Ireland launched

Media Ownership Monitor Ireland, led by Dr Roddy Flynn of Dublin City University is the first of its kind in the EU, will be supported by Coimisiún na Meán and aims to increase public awareness of media ownership in Ireland.

A new project monitoring the Irish media market has found it can be characterised by both a concentration of ownership but also a plurality of voices. The study also found a number of “hidden concentrations” in particular aspects of news content provision, such as the brokering of advertising placements and the printing and distribution of Irish newspapers. 

Media Ownership Monitoring Ireland (MOM), a website tracking who owns media organisations in Ireland and highlighting connections between media outlets and individuals and institutions, will be launched today (Friday 16 February) on DCU’s Glasnevin campus.

MOM Ireland is a joint project of the Dublin City University’s Institute for Future Media Democracy and Society (FuJo) and the German-based non-profit Global Media Registry (GMR), co-funded by the European Union.

The database highlights connections between Irish media outlets (print, broadcast and online) and other individuals and institutions whether through friendship, family, business connections etc.

The goal of MOM is to provide meaningful information for every Irish citizen to find out who owns what, and to better understand how and by whom public opinion is shaped through mass media. All research results are available to the general public via the website, which includes a searchable database of media companies, outlets and owners, profile pages for each of them, and a trove of accessible information about the Irish media industry overall. 

The MOM study also suggests the radio market may be less diverse than the operation of more than 30 commercial stations alongside RTÉ suggests. Although local stations rely on their own staff for local news, a vast majority of radio stations outside of RTÉ are serviced with their national and international news by Bauer Media Ireland, owner of Today FM and Newstalk. 

How newspapers are physically printed and distributed is also heavily concentrated. A succession of printing press closures means that almost all Irish-facing national papers now rely on just two operations, that are owned by the Irish Times and Webprint. One company - Newspread, a subsidiary of Mediahuis Ireland - dominates the physical distribution of newspapers across the state. 

The MOM also found a concentration in terms of advertising in both broadcast and print. With more than 20 titles, Iconic Media is the largest regional newspaper group in Ireland. However, Iconic’s owner Mediaforce brokers advertising space to advertising agencies on behalf of 55 regional papers (including its own titles). In television Sky Television’s suite of channels cumulatively account for 7% of the audiences in Ireland but Sky Media also sells advertising space in Ireland on behalf of more than 20 other channels owned by, amongst others, the BBC, Warner Bros-Discovery and Paramount. 

MOM Ireland also draws attention to  the phenomenon of online classified advertising portals venturing into journalism and, vice versa, legacy media outlets acquiring online advertisers.’s investment in exemplifies new market entrants based on revitalised business models. It is mirrored by the Irish Times ownership of property website and Mediahuis Ireland’s recent acquisition of

Such models may be essential to sustain news media in a relatively small market that’s dominated by foreign players. While RTÉ and the Irish Times Designated Activity Company remain in Irish hands, the bulk of media content in Ireland is provided by outlets ultimately owned by media giants from the US (Virgin Media and News Ireland), UK (DMG Media Group Ireland and Reach Ireland), Germany (Bauer Media Ireland) and Belgium (Mediahuis Ireland). 

Dr Roderick Flynn, Professor at DCU and research lead of the MOM Ireland, said:

“The findings do not constitute a clear and present danger to media pluralism and diversity in Ireland. But they do highlight concentrations of media power not always referenced in Irish debates about regulating direct media ownership.”

Coimisiún na Meán – Ireland’s new commission for regulating broadcasters and online media – will financially support the further development and updating of MOM over the coming three years.

Celene Craig, Broadcasting Commissioner at Coimisiún na Meán, said

“Coimisiún na Meán is committed to promoting media plurality in Ireland and empowering audiences to better understand the media they use and access every day. We do this through a range of activities including: policy development and implementation, research, licensing, and media literacy activities.  The MOM project is a valuable resource, providing key information and data on the ownership of individual media outlets, as well as relevant context and insight into the broader media landscape to inform greater understanding and discussion on issues of media plurality and concentration.  We are delighted to support the further development of Ireland’s Media Ownership Monitor and the increased transparency it brings to control and influence in the Irish media sphere.  We look forward to its ongoing development over the next three years.“

The publication of this database comes at a time of a new regulatory setup in Ireland, as well as sweeping EU legislation in the field of digital policy and press freedom. With the European Digital Services Act (DSA) implemented at national levels from this month onward and the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) taking its last legislative steps to pass, media ownership transparency and pluralism are moving to the forefront of political priorities. This happens as a response to the digital transition of the industry and aims at regulating social media platforms, sustaining quality journalism and fighting disinformation. MOM Ireland is the first of its kind in any country in the European Union.

Olaf Steenfadt, GMR’s Managing Director, said 

“Transparency is not an end in itself, but it is essential to empower users of media and regulators alike. Of course, every country is different, but we can witness some worrying patterns, such as media concentration and market failures, worldwide.”

The Media Ownership Monitor Ireland can be viewed at this link