TheJournal.ie’s application to join Press Council ‘well underway’

Regulatory body warns EU media proposals ‘pose unacceptable risks’ to freedom

Prof John Horgan at the launch of the Press Council of Ireland Office of the Press Ombudsman annual report. Photograph: Eric Luke

Prof John Horgan at the launch of the Press Council of Ireland Office of the Press Ombudsman annual report. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

TheJournal.ie’s application for membership to the Press Council of Ireland is “well underway” and will be processed soon, says the Press Ombudsman, Prof John Horgan.

The online publication’s owner Distilled Media first enquired about joining the regulatory system two years ago in a move that would give the company some legal benefits in the event of a libel action under the Defamation Act.

Speaking at the launch of the Press Council and Office of the Press Ombudsman annual report on Monday, Prof Horgan said the delay had been caused by the fact the press regulation body did not have any formal criteria for assessing new membership applications.


‘Unacceptable risks’
Meanwhile, the Press Council has submitted a response to a recent European Union report on media freedom and plurality. Published in January, the High Level Group report ruffled feathers by calling for Brussels to have greater powers to oversee national press councils to ensure they “comply with European values”.

Some of the report’s recommendations “pose unacceptable risks” to the principle of a free press, the Press Council says. Its message is: Ireland is not Hungary (where media freedom has come under sustained pressure from the state).

“What might constitute enlightened media supervision in one place might well be construed as unacceptable interference elsewhere,” the Press Council concludes.

Proposed enforcement powers, including fines and even the power to remove journalistic status, “would be viewed as imposing an unnecessarily heavy regulatory hand”, it warns.