The media watchdog Coimisiún na Meán (CnaM) has designated video-sharing platforms as a category of relevant online services under broadcasting legislation. This means that online-safety codes developed by the regulator may apply to providers of such services under the jurisdiction of the State.
The media regulator Coimisiún na Meán was formally established in March of this year. The coimisiún will regulate broadcasters and online media, support media development and will take on the work previously done by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Established under the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, Coimisiún na Meán is responsible for introducing a new regulatory framework for online safety. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has been dissolved and its staff and responsibilities transferred to the new commission.
The Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022 (the “OSMRA” and the “Act”) was signed into law by President Higgins on 10 December 2022. The Act introduces new rules to combat the availability of harmful material online, and to ensure that the regulation applicable to traditional broadcast media is equally applicable to media and content available through digital means.
Coimisiún na Meán is led by four commissioners, who have been appointed by Minister for Media Catherine Martin; Jeremy Godfrey as Executive Chairperson, Niamh Hodnett as Online Safety Commissioner; Rónán Ó Domhnaill as Media Development Commissioner and Celene Craig as Broadcasting Commissioner.
CnaM has described the designation, announced after a consultation process, as “a procedural first step” in ensuring that video-sharing platforms comply with any requirements of the Act that set up the new watchdog. The designation will take effect from 11 September.
The 2022 Act established a new regulatory framework for online safety, and transposed into Irish law the revised Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive).
The legislation applies to broadcasting services, on-demand audio-visual media services and video-sharing platform services established in the State on an EU-wide basis. Video-sharing platforms include services such as YouTube, and video content shared on other social-media platforms.
Digital Business Ireland (DBI) has expressed concerns that the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill could impact investment into the country. Its chair said there is a “serious risk” of Ireland gaining a reputation as a country that is “hostile” towards tech.
The group’s key issue is a provision that proposes to criminalise company directors if the company commits an offence by failing to comply with a notice to end contravention.