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Irish Communications Minister takes responsibility for media mergers

19 September 2011

Responsibility for all media mergers in Ireland is to be transferred from the Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise to the Minister for Communications.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, welcomed the announcement, said it was a long overdue acknowledgement of the need for a coherent media policy based on the principles of plurality and diversity.

He said:

"We await with interest the legislation currently being drafted. The report of the Media Advisory Group has been gathering dust since 2008 and it is essential that the issues raised in that report are dealt with. Media ownership should not just be a matter for the Competition Authority and the impact of proposed acquisitions needs to be assessed outside of the context of competition concerns.
"The NUJ believes that the convergence of print, broadcast and online media should be reflected in the departmental and ministerial responsibility for media matters. The Competition Authority's focus on market share has tended to set aside legitimate concerns about ownership and control."

Séamus Dooley renewed the NUJ's call for a Commission on Media Ownership and Control in Ireland.

"Recent experiences in the Midlands and in the Sunday newspaper market give cause for major concern. Within the independent radio sector powerful figures are fighting for less regulation and want the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to engage in a mere 'box ticking exercise' in assessing applications for commercial licences.
"There are a range of concerns regarding cross-ownership of media platforms and an independent commission that would examine all aspects of media ownership and control should be set in place as a matter of urgency, perhaps in the context of the publication of the draft bill."

Tags: , merger, ownership, newspapers, online, new media, broadcasting, competition authority, government ireland