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Appointments must be based on merit and not political cronyism

Mr. Willie O’Reilly, chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) has said that a clear and transparent process for the appointment of nominees to the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland must be put in place to avoid any suggestion of cronyism or backroom politics in the membership of the new Authority.

Speaking at the IBI AGM which was attended by independent broadcasters across Ireland including 2 national, 4 regional and 27 local radio stations, Mr. O’Reilly said that the imminent passage into law of the Broadcasting Bill and the creation of an overarching Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for all broadcasters including RTE, was a new departure for Irish broadcasting.

“However, ground breaking proposals in the Bill mean the responsibility of the Oireachtas and of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in particular is only beginning. Uniquely among state bodies the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will have four of its nine member board nominated by the Joint Oireachtas Committee.

“This can be either an encouraging first step in real transparency in the appointments process to state boards or it can be a step backwards into the worst kind of back room politics. There is a huge onus on the Joint Committee to get this right, to nominate people of stature and experience in broadcasting”, he said.

Mr O’Reilly added; “Having followed this process from the publication of the Bill in May 2008, I can say that the degree of scrutiny and the level of debate in the Seanad and Dáil is very encouraging. However, the Joint Committee and its Chairman, Deputy MJ Nolan must now lay out clear criteria and a transparent process for the Committee’s choice of nominees. We can see from Westminster how politics can be very badly damaged when it is not conducted in the open. The quality of broadcasting matters hugely to our quality of life and in turn the quality and experience of people on the inaugural Authority will be crucial.

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, Louis Brandeis said in 1914 – two years before he became a justice of the US Supreme Court. I agree. I am calling on the Committee Chair, Deputy Nolan to engage with broadcasters in advance of the establishment of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and to ensure that the qualifying criteria for nomination will be what a candidate has to offer broadcasting in the future and not what they have done for any political party in the past”, he said.

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Further information:
Lisa Ni Choisdealbha, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland: 087-2038956
Laurie Mannix MKC Communications: (01) 7038600

About the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative body for Ireland’s independent commercial radio broadcasters. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of independent broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector.

The independent voice of Ireland, 63.3% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2.393 million listeners. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector, independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy. The IBI represents 2 national radio stations, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations. For more information please visit: www.ibireland.ie.