Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has said there is a race to the bottom in terms of the quality of some coverage in some sections of the print media.

Speaking at the Association of European Journalists lunch in Dublin, he said the capacity of a free media to hold the powerful to account is of vital importance.

However, he said the quality of political coverage in some papers is little above the level of tittle tattle.

He also said media governance, including how best to handle defamation and privacy online, should be a central concern of any democracy.

There may well be issues included in the forthcoming reports of the Leveson Inquiry in the UK that suggest we take a more complete look at media governance in Ireland, he said, although Ireland’s Press Council model has been commended in the course of that inquiry.

Questioned by journalists about RTÉ's regional coverage, he said there would undoubtably be local political reaction if RTÉ felt compelled to makes savings in that area.

However he said he was reluctant to interfere in operational and managerial decisions in terms of savings that have to be made at RTÉ.

He said no decision had yet been made by management on this issue and he would have to see that decision in order to have an opinion on it.