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Coalition to tighten up rules on media mergers

THE Government plans to tighten up the rules on media mergers in new legislation on competition.

Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton confirmed yesterday he would deal with the recommendations in a new law he is drawing up which will overhaul the regulation of competition and consumer rights.

The new legislation comes after a committee chaired by barrister Paul Sreenan published recommendations about media mergers.

In response to a question about newspaper ownership from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv, Mr Bruton said he would be seeking approval from Cabinet to draw up the legislation.

The recommendation from Mr Sreenan's body included calls for a statutory definition of media plurality, guidelines for ministers responsible for approving media mergers and an up-to-date definition of "media business".

Newspaper mergers are subject to particular scrutiny by the authorities. Both the Competition Authority and the Enterprise Minister must approve any merger before it can take place.

The current rules are vague and have rarely been tested in the courts. Legislation would clarify whether media companies can be bought rather than relying on political decisions.


Mr Bruton was also asked if he was concerned about editorial interference surrounding the reporting of the Moriarty Tribunal.

The minister replied: "The editorial strategies of media organisations and the manner in which they carry out such strategies are matters for the organisations themselves."

The minister added that he had "no direct function in relation to such matters".

Irish Independent