The guidelines are designed to provide interested parties with insight on how the new media mergers regulatory process will work. This includes information on the following:
- Information about who is required to apply
- The notification process
- An explanation of how media mergers will be examined
- Information about the relevant criteria that inform the Minister’s decision-making
Importantly, the guidelines include the following:
- A definition of “significant interest”
- Metrics that will be used to identify when a holding in a media business represents a ‘significant interest’.
The guidelines and associated notification form were prepared in accordance with Section 28L of the new part 3A of the amended Competition Act 2002 (the Act). The Act was amended by the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 (the amending Act).
The amending Act introduced the new media mergers regulations. It also transferred responsibility for the protection of plurality to the Minister for Communication, Climate Action and Environment.
Preparation and Public Consultation
Officials from the Department worked with media experts and academics and officials from the following bodies:
- The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)
- The Competition Authority. The amending Act renamed the Authority as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)
- The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI)
The Department conducted extensive consultative research which contributed to the formation of the guidelines. In accordance with the Act the guidelines were published in draft form for public consultation on the 8 December 2014. This consultation was open for a total of 30 working days until the 22 January 2015.
Thirteen submissions were received and these were then given full consideration by Department officials. The submissions received helped in finalising of the guidelines. The submissions came from a variety of sources including the following:
- Individual citizens
- Public representatives
- Legal firms
- The trade union movement
The content of the submissions received was very mixed, reflecting the broad range of views considered by the Department.