The Chairman of Thomas Crosbie Holdings has said there is a tsunami of information coming from new media, some of which has the "capacity to destroy civil society and cause unimaginable suffering."

Speaking at a conference on media diversity in Dublin, Alan Crosbie said that the public service remit of newspapers such as the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent and the Irish Times should be recognised.

He said: "Obviously, RTE should be funded properly, outside of the advertising market.

"It distorts the market for everybody, because if you're running a TV station and you have €150m to kickstart your year that means you can sell cheaper advertising."

Mr Crosbie said information from traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and television, has a provenance.

He said: "We should value organisations that produce good information."

In relation to new media, he said the question is not whether or not it delivers information, but what it delivers.

Mr Crosbie said: "New media can sometimes give credibility to news that maybe should not have that credibility.

"One of the problems newspapers have is that we are all tarred with the same black brush that (Rupert) Murdoch has created. We are much less trusted than we ought to be.

"The fact is that, to generate good information carries a cost. It requires money. Unless you steal it like most new media companies do.

"And, if you bring that argument to its logical conclusion all you'll get on their news sites is a blank screen, because they eventually will have no one left to steal from."

Media merger legislation planned

Speaking at the same event, the Minister for Communications said that his Department is currently working on drafting a Bill on media mergers.

Pat Rabbitte said the draft is expected to be published in the coming months.

He said criteria applied when assessing any future proposed mergers will include the likely effect of the media merger on plurality and the undesirability of allowing any one individual or undertaking to hold significant interests within a sector or across different sections of media business.

The Minister also said defamation laws have yet to fully come to terms with the implications of new media.

Mr Rabbitte said that in time there may be a place for the inclusion of established online media organs in a system of non statutory and independent self regulation in digital media, possibly even being afforded recognition in the Defamation Act.