Register of providers
The Commission shall establish a register of media service providers that are under the jurisdiction of the State and publish the register on its website. It is the duty of a media service provider to notify the Commission that it should be included on the register, the minimum timeframes for notification, and the details which must be provided within a notification. A media service provider shall notify the Commission of any changes to the information provided as part of a notification.
The Act sets out the procedure that shall be followed by the Commission where it has received a notification. The Commission may request further information from a media service provider in order to inform its decisions. The Commission shall, when it considers appropriate, review each entry in the register and following appropriate consultation with the provider in question, amend the register if any information is incorrect or where a media service provider should not be subject to registration.
The Commission may direct a provider to take any action to comply, Prior to such a direction, the provider must be given an opportunity to make representations about the apparent failure to comply. The provider may also appeal a direction to the Circuit Court.
If the Commission removes a media service provider from the register, it must include a statement of the reasons for the removal within the register and provide the relevant provider with the same.
Rules and guidelines
The Commission may make rules or issue guidelines with the intention of ensuring the efficient operation of the processes described under this Part. Duties, codes, and rules applying to media service providers and sound broadcasters.
There are duties on broadcasting and on-demand audiovisual media services and there is power for the Commission to make codes and rules in respect of those media services.
The Act defines a “relevant media service provider as a provider of an audiovisual on-demand media service.
Harm & Privacy
Broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual media services shall not broadcast or make available certain material which may reasonably be regarded as causing harm or offence, as likely to promote, or incite to, crime, as conduct which advocates the commission of terrorist offences within the meaning of Article 5 of Directive (EU) 2017/541, as likely to incite to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons, or a member of a group, or as tending to undermine the authority of the State.
Broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual media services shall ensure that the privacy of any individual is not unreasonably encroached upon within their programmes or in the making of such programmes.
News and current affairs
Broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual media services shall ensure that news and current affairs programmes are reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner. This requirement does not prevent the broadcast or making available of party political programmes, provided an unfair preference is not given to any particular party, nor where the news or current affairs issue in question relates to policy as regards broadcasting which is the subject of public debate and under consideration by the Government or the Minister.
This also requires a sound broadcasting service, unless the Commission authorises a derogation, to devote not less than 20% of broadcasting time to news and current affairs, and, in some cases, not less than two hours between 7:00 and 19:00 each day.
The Act sets out the duties of broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual media services in respect of advertisements made available by them. Sound broadcasting services are to ensure that the total daily time devoted to advertisements does not exceed 15 per cent of the total daily broadcasting time. Media service codes and media service rules Media service codes
The Commission may make media service codes governing the standards and practices of broadcasters and providers of audiovisual on-demand media services. Such codes may provide for standards and practices to ensure that broadcasters and providers comply with the duties set out in Chapter 2, that in programme material audiences are protected from anything harmful or offensive, that commercial communications protect the interests of the audience and protect the interests of children having particular regard to the public health interests of children, and that the provision of a broadcasting service or audiovisual on-demand media service which has as one of its principal objectives the promotion of the interests of any organisation protects the interests of the audience.
Protection of Children
In particular, a media service code providing for the protection of the interests of children in respect of their public health may, following consultation by the Commission with the relevant public health authorities, prohibit commercial communications relating to food or beverages considered by the Commission to be a subject of public concern.
The Commission shall make codes to provide for matters set out under a number of Articles of the revised Directive. There are matters to which the Commission shall have regard in making media service codes, including the degree of harm or offence likely to be caused and the likely size and composition of a potential audience. The failure to comply with a media service code shall be a contravention of the purposes of Part 8B of the amended Principal Act, which provides for investigations and sanctions by the Commission.
There is a saving provision to ensure that the extant broadcasting codes are made under Part 3 of the Principal Act, which was repealed, remain in operation and continue to apply to broadcasters.
Media service rules
The Commission may make media service rules in relation to total daily times that shall be allowed for broadcasting commercial communications on a broadcasting service provided by a broadcasting contractor, which must specify the time allowed for broadcasting audiovisual commercial communications between 6:00 and 18:00, and between 18:00 and 24:00 each day, subject to the requirement that the time specified must not exceed 20 per cent of the time in each period.
The Commission shall make media service rules requiring broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual media services to provide access to audiovisual programmes by making available a sign language service, subtitling, or audio description, and to take steps to promote the understanding and enjoyment of those programmes by persons who are deaf and have a hearing impairment, persons who are blind or partially sighted, and persons who have a hearing impairment and are partially sighted.
The 2023 Act contains a saving provision to ensure the continuance in force of extant broadcasting rules. The failure to comply with a media service rule shall be a contravention for the purposes of Part 8B of the amended Principal Act, which provides for investigations and sanctions by the Commission.
Retention of copies of programme material.
Broadcasters and audiovisual on- demand media services shall retain a copy of all programme material broadcast or made available, for a duration determined by the Commission and that a failure to retain a copy shall be a contravention for the purposes of Part 8B of the amended Principal Act. The Commission may also, at any time, require the broadcaster or service to provide a copy of any retained programme material.
Procedures in relation to media service codes and media service rules
The Commission shall make a draft version of a media service code or rule available for inspection by any person and, before finalising that code or rule, have regard to any submissions it receives on the subject. The Minister shall be advised of any making, amendment, or revocation of a media service code or rule and that such codes or rules be laid by the Commission before the Oireachtas and that they may be annulled by either House in certain circumstances.
The 2023 Act amends the Principal Act in order to insert references to a provider of an audiovisual on-demand media service as well as a broadcaster.
The 2023 Act substituting a new provision which sets out the grounds by, and timeframes within, which a person may make a complaint to the Commission in respect of the failure of a broadcaster or audiovisual on-demand media service to comply with relevant provisions of the amended Principal Act, such as those relating to media service codes and media service rules. Depending on the specific circumstances, the Commission may refer the complaint to the broadcaster or provider, dismiss the complaint, or refer it to an authorised officer for further investigation.
The 2023 Act provisions des for consequential amendments to Principal Act, primarily in order to refer to updated provisions of the amended Principal Act and to reflect the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and establishment of the Commission in the Act.
The Commission shall, with the approval of the Minister, set the time allowed for audiovisual broadcasting services under this Part to broadcast advertisements in the period between 6.00 and 18.00, and in the period between 18.00 and 24.00 each day. The time fixed for these periods must not exceed 20 per cent of the time in each period. This is a requirement of the revised Directive.
There are updated requirements for sound broadcasting services to ensure that the total daily time for broadcasting advertisements does not exceed 15 per cent of the total daily broadcasting time, and that the maximum period given to advertisements does not exceed 10 minutes in any hour.
The Minister may, with the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, allocate television license fee funding to the Commission in addition to RTÉ and TG4. The amount of funding to the Commission, however, must not exceed 50 per cent of the estimate of the expenses of the Commission for the financial year in respect of the regulation of broadcasting services.
Availability and prominence of public service programmes and services
There are requirements for the prominence of public service programmes and services on interactive guides used to select services or programmes to view and provide for obligations that public service programmes and services must be carried on particular services:
Platform providers shall comply with a request from a public service provider to carry an audiovisual broadcasting service or audiovisual on-demand media service provided by the public service provider and that the public service provider must ensure at all times that its services are offered to platform providers in a way in which they can be re-transmitted or made available. The Commission may make rules for the purpose of ensuring compliance with such requirements and may also become involved in disputes in relation to the remuneration of a public service provider by a platform provider.
Prominence on interactive guides
The Commission may make rules which ensure the prominence of public service programmes, audiovisual broadcasting services, and audiovisual on-demand media services on a provider’s interactive guide. In respect of public service programmes, such rules may only apply to programmes which for example, relate to Irish culture, history, heritage, society, sport, or language.
The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Commission, make an order which designates a service as a public service audiovisual broadcasting service or on-demand media service for the purposes of the must- carry and must-offer rules and prominence rules set out.
Community Sound Broadcasters
There is a provision for the making of grants by the Commission to community sound broadcasters.
An “MMD System”, is a system (multipoint microwave distribution system) which is no longer in use, and the 2023 Act deletes a transitional provision which was in place to ensure an appropriate transition from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
The Commission shall submit a scheme to the Minister which provides for the making of grants to community sound broadcasters for the purposes of supporting and promoting good professional journalistic practices and standards. Under this scheme, a community sound broadcaster may be required to co-fund the appropriate training or professional development opportunities. a scheme before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The catalogues of audiovisual on-demand media services contain at least a 30% share of European works and for the imposition of a European works levy and making of a European works scheme out of which funds from the levy may be granted by the Commission:
Audiovisual on-demand media services must, excepting those exempted or those with low audiences or turnover, ensure that their catalogue contains at least a 30% share of European works. The Commission must make rules for determining whether an audiovisual on-demand media service has a catalogue in which the share of European works is less than 30% and whether a media service provider has a low audience or turnover.
The Commission shall make rules which ensure the prominence of European works in the catalogue of an audiovisual on-demand media service. Such rules will not apply to a media service provider with a low turnover or a low audience or those exempted under the rules made. The rules made by the Commission may relate to, for example, the visibility and presentation of European works within a catalogue, or the accessibility of European works within a catalogue.
The Commission shall report to the Minister once annually on the operation of the provisions relating to the share and prominence of European works.
European works Levy & Scheme
The Media Commission may impose a levy (the ‘European works levy’) on media service providers under the jurisdiction of the State, or those under the jurisdiction of another Member State and targeting audiences in the State. The same services as exempted under other provisions will again be exempted.
The Commission may make a scheme (the ‘European works scheme’) out of which funds from the European works levy may be granted to provide support for the production of European works to media service providers which are under the jurisdiction of the State, or target audiences in the State and are established in another Member State.
The Act specifies the type of programming that may be supported, which includes programmes relating to Irish culture, history, heritage, society and sport, or new audiovisual programmes to improve adult literacy or improve media literacy. At least 25% of the annual funds under this scheme be granted to certain programmes in the Irish language. The Commission shall prepare a scheme if the Minister directs it to.
There is a procedure by which the Commission shall submit a European works scheme to the Minister and by which the Minister shall consider a scheme. The Minister may approve or refuse a scheme, direct the Commission to reconsider a scheme, or direct the Commission to resubmit a scheme with amendments.
Exemptions for particular services
The Commission may make rules which ensure that certain services are exempted. It may be necessary to apply such rules where the Commission considers it impracticable or unjustified by reason of the nature of a service to impose the corresponding obligations on it.