Jeremy Godfrey has been named as executive chairperson of Coimisiún na Meán (Media Commission), the body that will oversee regulation of online safety and video-on-demand services and take on the responsibilities of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
Niamh Hodnett has been appointed online safety commissioner, Celene Craig has been named broadcasting commissioner and Rónán Ó Domhnaill will serve as media development commissioner.
Mr Godfrey is the current chair of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and he previously chaired communications regulator ComReg. He began his career as a civil servant in the UK and was government chief information officer in Hong Kong between 2008 and 2011.
Ms Hodnett is a lawyer with experience in online safety matters, including the blocking of access to child sex abuse material. Her most recent role is chief legal and regulatory officer at the National Lottery, while she has also served as head of regulatory affairs for mobile telecoms company Three Ireland.
In her capacity as online safety commissioner, a role that is likely to be much scrutinised, she will be empowered to develop binding online safety codes that hold designated online services to account for how they deal with harmful online content.
Ms Craig is the current chief executive of the BAI, which will be subsumed within Coimisiún na Meán when it is formally established next month. The Irish and European media regulation expert is leading the transition of the BAI into the new organisation.
Mr Ó Domhnaill, a former RTÉ and TG4 journalist who has served as language commissioner at An Coimisinéir Teanga since 2014, will be responsible for how the new organisation distributes media funding through schemes previously operated by the BAI.
His task may eventually be expanded to include the operation of the fund created by the mooted content levy, sometimes referred to as the “Netflix levy”, in partnership with Screen Ireland.
The establishment of Coimisiún na Meán follows the signing into law last month of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, with Mr Godfrey and the three commissioners expected to take up their duties in mid-February.
The appointments were announced on Tuesday by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin.
“Coimisiún na Meán will be central to safeguarding all of us, and in particular children, as we interact with and use online spaces. It will also have a central role in ensuring the media sector here in Ireland remains viable, independent and capable of delivering public service objectives by implementing many of the recommendations made by the Future of Media Commission,” Ms Martin said.
Mr Godfrey said it was “an honour” to be appointed to the role.
“Together with my fellow commissioners, we aim to ensure a thriving, safe and diverse online and media landscape. In particular, it will be a priority that citizens in Ireland and across the European Union should have a high level of protection from illegal and harmful content,” he said.
“We look forward to putting in place robust and effective regulatory mechanisms, as well as expanded broadcast and media funding schemes, so that we achieve these goals.”
A commissioner for digital services is currently being recruited. Under the legislation, up to six commissioners can be appointed, while the regulator is on track to have a staff of up to 300. This represents a big expansion of media regulation in the State and effectively introduces regulatory oversight of online content for the first time.