I thank members and guests for attending our session on media. Our round-table discussion is with RTÉ, the National Union of Journalists, NUJ, and the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, IBI, to discuss the future of public service broadcasting and the impact of Covid-19 on the media sector.
I request that members sit only in the seats permitted and in front of available microphones to ensure they are heard. This is important as not doing so causes serious problems for the broadcasting, editorial and sound staff. I remind members to please maintain social distance at all times during and following our meeting. Members are requested to use the wipes and hand sanitiser provided to clean the shared seats and desks to supplement the regular sanitisation in the breaks between meetings. There is always the temptation to stay talking to our guests after our meeting but there are other committee meetings happening after ours. I therefore encourage members to retire to the lobby if they wish to have a discussion with guests afterwards, which they are more than welcome to do. Rather than hanging around in here however, I ask that we vacate the room and leave it free for the sanitisation that needs to happen.
I welcome to the meeting Mr. Adrian Lynch, director of audience, channels and marketing at RTÉ; Mr. Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists; and Mr. John Purcell, CEO of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland. Mr. Lynch, Mr. Dooley and Mr. Purcell are here to discuss the future of Irish broadcasting and the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. I am sure our guests have already noted that their opening statements should not be longer than three minutes each and these will be followed by questions from members of the committee. As our guests are probably aware, the committee may publish their opening statements on its website following the meeting. We will begin with Mr. Lynch followed by Mr. Dooley and then Mr. Purcell.
I remind witnesses of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House, or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I would like the witnesses to note that they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentation they make in the committee. This means they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they might say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege and it is my duty as Chairman to ensure this privilege is not abused. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in relation to identifying a person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that witnesses comply with such direction. I have no doubt that will not happen but it is important to point that out.
I invite Mr. Lynch to make his opening statement and remind him that it should not be longer than three minutes, if possible.