Calls to create a digital media clearing house

15 Apr 2008

Leading authorities on digital media have called for the creation of an International Media Services Centre (IMSC) that would manage digital rights for Hollywood and the music industry from Ireland and would have the same impact as the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).

Chris Armstrong, whose company Portomedia has struck a major deal with six Hollywood studios as well as Microsoft, Toshiba and Samsung to create a new ATM machine-like mechanism for distributing DVDs, said the time to create an IMSC is now.

“By creating an IMSC to manage the rights for media worldwide out of Ireland, we will get first mover advantage in a new world order.”

Such a move could result in thousands of new jobs by making Ireland a location of choice for digital media organisations and traditional entertainment companies.

“Trading media rights and using the Irish corporate tax break to incentivise media companies to manage global rights out of this country could create another IFSC,” said Armstrong.

The IFSC was the brainchild of Dermot Desmond in the Eighties and came to fruition following the passing of finance legislation in 1987 by the then Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

The Dublin-based IFSC has since grown to accommodate 14,000 people working for many of the world’s premier financial institutions, as well as for law firms and accountancy and taxation advisors. Recent figures showed that the Irish Exchequer collected more than €700m in corporation tax from IFSC companies in 2002.

Armstrong said he is lobbying alongside other media groups to get support from Government agencies and politicians.

“We have brought this to a number of government ministers who have given us a hearing.”

He said political apathy brought about by failures such as MediaLab Europe and the development struggles of the Digital Hub should not get in the way. “We’re talking about a real digital hub that trades media and create international business and trade. It would be a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this.

“Any media companies we spoke to on this were supportive. The success of the IFSC could be replicated if the right people demonstrate vision.”

Bartley O’Connor, an associate director at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers aggress with Armstrong that Ireland could play central stage in the creation of a global digital entertainment clearing house akin to the IFSC.

“There’s a good opportunity for Ireland Inc to grasp the digital media world and set it up as a centre of competence equal to the IFSC. Ireland can be a host for all kinds of digital media – content management, distribution, IP protection -if the right environment was put in place.”

By John Kennedy