On 8 December 2014, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources launched a consultation on draft guidelines on the Irish media merger review process.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, which entered into force at the end of October 2014, made significant changes to the rules governing the review of mergers in the media sector.  In particular, the Act introduced a new requirement that all media mergers be notified not only to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (formerly the Competition Authority) but also to the Minister for Communications.  This allows consideration of the merger’s effects on media plurality and may trigger a more detailed Phase II investigation by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The draft guidelines describe the process for notifying the Minister for Communications of a media merger, and include a notification form identifying the information to be produced by the parties.  They also indicate how the Minister will apply the “relevant criteria” set out in the Act for determining whether a proposed media merger is contrary to the public interest in terms of media plurality.  These issues are of key focus for media organisations and other parties interested in the sector.

The guidelines are open for consultation until 22 January 2015.