11 Feb 2021, 12.28

The Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht has written to key stakeholders and experts seeking submissions on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020 as part of its Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Heads of the Bill.

The General Scheme of the Bill was approved by the Government in November 2020 and subsequently published in December by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and consists of three general themes:

  • Parts 2 and 3: The establishment of the Media Commission and dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland;
  • Part 4: Online Safety; and
  • Parts 5 and 6: On-Demand Audiovisual Services and miscellaneous provisions regarding the transposition of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

Committee Chair Deputy Niamh Smyth said: “The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020 is part of the Programme for Government and the Committee has agreed to progress it as a priority. The Bill proposes the appointment of an Online Safety Commissioner as part of a wider Media Commission to oversee the new regulatory framework for online safety. It is proposed that the Commissioner will govern this new framework through binding online safety codes and robust compliance, enforcement and sanction powers to address the problems of harmful content and online communications.

“The Committee is convinced that urgent regulation is long overdue to protect young and vulnerable people from the onslaught and exposure to harmful content on social media platforms. The devastating effects are hurtful, cruel, painful and can lead to loss of life.

“As part of our scrutiny of the Heads of the Bill, we have invited written submissions from a range of experts in the areas of online safety, child protection, mental health, and media law and policy, as well as regulatory bodies and representatives of civic society. We are also seeking the views of key stakeholders, including representatives of the media industry, broadcasters, audio-visual producers, on-demand services, industry bodies and social media companies. Members will then consider the submissions received ahead of holding hearings on this important legislation in the early summer.”

The Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht has 14 Members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.

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