The Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources is to be notified in writing of a proposal to put a media merger or acquisition into effect. Notifying parties must furnish full information in relation to the media merger, including, in particular, matters that might impair the plurality of the media in the State. The Commission must notify the Minister of its determination on the media merger notification.
A media merger is void if it is put into effect before the Minister for Communications makes a determination. It is void if it is not put into effect within 12 months of the determination being made.
The Minister for Communications must inform the businesses concerned within 30 working days of notification of his determination to clear the proposed merger or acquisition, to clear it with conditions or to proceed to request the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to carry out an investigation.
The Minister may enter discussions with the undertakings with a view to gaining commitments that protect the plurality of the media. The reasons for the determination must be published.
A full media merger investigation must be undertaken where the Minister for Communications etc. has made a determination it is required. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is to take account of the factors set out in the legislation.
A copy of the request must be placed on its website and the BAI is to invite submissions It must send a copy to the relevant Oireachtas Committee, inviting submissions within a specified time.
BAI & Panel
The Authority may enter into discussions with the undertakings with a view to identifying measures that will remediate the effects of the media merger on the plurality of the media in the State.
The Broadcasting Authority has 80 days to report back to the Minister, including a recommendation as to whether the media merger should be put into effect with or without conditions or should not be put into effect. It must provide its draft report and recommendations to the businesses involved for comment.
The Minister for Communications may establish an advisory panel to provide an opinion to the Broadcasting Authority on the application of the relevant criteria to the media merger in question once there has been a full media merger investigation. This consists of between three and five persons appointed by the Minister. The panel is to produce a report on the relevant criteria within 20 working days and provide clarification of its opinion in writing if requested by the Minister for Communications.
The Minister for Communications may make a determination after a full investigation. He determines whether or not the media merger is to be put into effect or may be put into effect, subject to any conditions specified, within 20 working days of receiving the report and recommendation.
There is a provision for review of conditions in determinations within 40 days of the date of notification if the market conditions applicable to the merger have substantially changed since the date of the Broadcast Authority report to the Minister.
The Minister may, within 40 working days, with the consent of the undertakings involved, amend or revoke conditions if the parties have made a request to review the determination.
The terms of the determination are enforceable. A High Court injunction may be granted in order to enforce compliance on the initiative of the Minister.
There are penalties for noncompliance. A person guilty of an offence on summary conviction is subject to a class A fine or imprisonment up to six months or both. On conviction of an indictment, a person is subject to imprisonment up to two years or a €10,000 fine or both.
There are provisions requiring leave to be granted for judicial review of any determination by the Minister. There are shorter than usual time limits. Leave may not be granted unless there are substantial grounds for review.