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Specialist Guide to the
Global Leaders in Media Law Practice
A mixed year for Ireland with record digital advertising spend, calls for an investigation into media ownership and prevalent fears that Irish media law could be ‘one of the most repressive’ globally.
According to data from Interactive Advertising Bureau Ireland (IAB Ireland) and PwC, released in April 2017, digital advertising in Ireland reached a new high in 2016 with advertising revenues of
EUR 445 million.
Online advertising spend increased by 31 per cent in 2016, growth that was partly spurred by investment in mobile and social media advertising.
Commenting on the findings, Nuala Nic Ghearailt, Manager at PwC, said: “The digital advertising sector in Ireland continues to show very strong growth with mobile clearly outstripping desktop spend. The main areas of growth are coming from search, native, social media and video advertising.”
Other developments include the launch of an independent report, commissioned by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan and written by lawyers in London and Belfast, that highlights ‘grave concerns’ over media ownership and independence.
The report finds that the dominant position of businessman Denis O’Brien, who has extensive ownership of newspaper and radio holdings amounts to ‘threats to diversity, plurality and freedom of expression’.
The report also states that “Ireland has one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy”.
Mr O’Brien is the largest shareholder in the country’s largest newspaper publisher, Independent News & Media and owns, among others, two leading commercial radio stations, Newstalk and Today FM.
The report calls on the government to establish a commission of investigation to address media ownership and the concentration of power.
Meanwhile, media law in Ireland is described as repressive with the defamation regime posing serious challenges to freedom of expression.
NewsBrands Ireland, (formerly National Newspapers of Ireland), the representative body for all national newspapers, print and online, welcomed the review of the Defamation Act.
According to NewsBrands, ‘The costs involved and the level of awards made place an enormous burden on publishers. Since 2010, defamation actions have cost NewsBrands members in excess of €30m.’
Arthur Cox has an established media practice with cross-border capability. Working from its Belfast and London offices, the firm advises on music, film, television and advertising. Under the leadership of Colin Kavanagh the team advised Savage Productions on the financing and production of various film and television projects. The team also assisted RTÉ Networks with regulatory aspects of third party broadcasting.
’s internal collaborative approach creates broad sector and service focus. The firm’s specialisation in media defence, commercial litigation, privacy and internet liability is driven by department head Karyn Harty. The team works on numerous defamation actions on behalf of long-standing clients Times Newspapers Ltd, Trinity Mirror and the Rehab Group.
William Fry has a “strong reputation in the area of defamation”. Clients highlight the firm as one of Ireland’s leading media law practices. Head of defamation and privacy Fiona Barry is described by clients as “thoughtful, responsive and provides pragmatic advice”. Head of media Ken Casey advises on a range of issues including entertainment, social media and data protection. The firm acts for clients including UTV, BBC, Daily Mail Group and Sky.
A&L Goodbody’s media team operates under the management of the firm’s IP and technology division. Areas of specialisation include broadcast, entertainment, publishing and online media. Lawyers advise on regulation, content licensing and copyright disputes.
With a dedicated sports law division, Mason Hayes & Curran lawyers regularly advise broadcasters, sponsors, sports-governing bodies, investors and athletes. Related focus areas include reputation management, personality and image rights along with dispute resolution. Working from a separate TMT division, media lawyers work with leading social media and search organisations on matters ranging from first round funding and strategic outsourcing partnerships to intellectual property management.
The media and entertainment division at Philip Lee specialises in film and television. Lawyers assist with feature films, animation series and television drama produced in Ireland. The team also advises on Ireland’s tax incentive for film and online distributed productions. Led by Jonathan Kelly, the practice is recognised among peers for its high visibility in sector-related cases.
Ronan Daly Jermyn’s areas of expertise include defamation, privacy and contempt of law. Lawyers acts for print, broadcast and digital media clients on media mergers, advertising, copyright and regulation. The firm advises radio and digital entities within the UTV Group and several regional newspaper titles.
Primarily a defence practice, Simon McAleese is among the country’s leading libel specialists. The media team acts for newspapers, magazine and book publishers, radio stations and independent television production companies. The firm is also known for its work in the area of data protection, copyright and reputation management.
Rachel Shanley manages the media division at Eugene F. Collins, which is known for its focus on traditional media content providers such as radio and television broadcasters. The team also provides pre-publication advice and litigates on behalf of clients in cases of defamation and privacy.
Johnsons is gaining recognition among peers, who highlight the firm for its increased visibility in media cases. Under the management of Paul Tweed, the team achieved record damages for plaintiff clients while representing national newspapers and publishers. The firm also works with clients from the music, sports and entertainment industries.
LK Shields lawyers have extensive experience advising on corporate transactions. The firm acted for Communicorp Group Limited, the largest radio operator in Ireland, in its acquisitions of foreign radio stations. In a separate case lawyers advised Alpha Newspaper Group with its acquisition of various newspapers. Other focus areas include film financing and production, music rights and defamation.
Lawyers at Matheson have in-depth experience advising on libel, contempt of court, freedom of expression and privacy laws. With a dedicated entertainment and media group, the firm is widely involved in contractual and financing arrangements for feature films and television programming. Head of division Ruth Hunter also advises on sector-related equity and tax-based arrangements.
Beauchamps Solicitors specialises in advertising, digital media and sponsorship. The team provides advice on content, online marketing, copyright protection as well as clearance advice on advertising copy. The practice is known for transactional work, sports law and product law.
The media division at DFMG Solicitors works within the firm’s intellectual property department, focussing on film finance, privacy and sponsorship and advertising agreements. Lawyers also advise on data protection and copyright.
Ranking and editorials
Mason Hayes & Curran
Ronan Daly Jermyn
Eugene F. Collins
Gleeson McGrath Baldwin
RANKING AND EDITORIALS