Wednesday, 18 April 2018
I understand the Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten, will make a statement to the House this afternoon on the matter referred to in The Irish Timesin respect of the proposed acquisition of the Celtic Media group by INM. I have not seen the affidavit and do not think anyone in this House has. As it is a matter before the courts and sub judice, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the affidavit.
The purpose of the media mergers regime is to safeguard the diversity and pluralism of media in the State and foster a regulatory environment that will enable media companies to flourish and ensure a range of diverse views are heard. All proposed media mergers that have been cleared by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC, are examined from a media plurality and diversity perspective in line with published guidelines which set out criteria for examining proposed media mergers, including diversity of ownership in the relevant media sector and the wider media market; geographical impact; governance structures; and the financial standing of the parties. The guidelines provide for an initial phase one examination by departmental officials and referral to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for a more detailed phase two examination where this is warranted in the light of the initial diversity and plurality assessments and factors such as the scale of the proposed acquisition and its geographical reach. In this case the CCPC cleared the proposed merger on 10 November 2016. An application under the media mergers process was received by the Department on 21 November 2016. I am advised by the Minister that his Department subsequently subjected the application to the full rigours of the Act and the media merger guidelines before making its recommendation to him on 4 November. He made the decision on the matter on 10 January 2017 and acted on the advice of his officials at all times.