Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
580. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will examine the concentration of local media ownership by a group (details supplied) which has resulted in layoffs of personnel vital to maintaining the content, quality and continuity of the newspapers involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15291/21]
Under the Competition Act 2002 (as amended), proposed mergers or acquisitions meeting certain criteria must be notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC. The CCPC must then examine the notification and decide if the merger may proceed on competition grounds. Media mergers which have received the CCPC's determination to proceed must also be notified to me as Minister.
Upon notification, a phase 1 examination of the merger is carried out by my Department. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that a notified media merger will not be contrary to the public interest in protecting the plurality of media in the State. Each merger is examined on its own merits in line with the relevant criteria set out in the Competition Act and the media mergers guidelines, both of which are available on my Department's website.
Following this examination, I have three options under the legislation, which are to allow the merger to proceed, to allow the merger to proceed with conditions or to ask the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI, to conduct a more in-depth or phase 2 examination of the proposed merger. If the latter is the case, then the BAI will provide me with a report detailing its recommendations on the matter.
It is important to note that while the local/regional newspaper sector is a very important source of information for the public, it is one element of the overall media market in the State. The merger activity in this particular sub sector has had no significant impact to date on the overall diversity of news and current affairs content available to audiences. For each merger, I must assess the impact of the proposed transaction not only on the print sector, but also on the television, radio and internet media sectors as well.