The purchase of the Irish Examiner by The Irish Times after a so-called phase-two probe can go ahead without any conditions, the competition regulator has said.
Though final approval for the media deal is required from Communications Minister Denis Naughten, the ruling by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) means the merger of the two media titles will likely be sealed in the coming months.
The watchdog found the deal wouldn’t substantially lessen competition in the media markets in which the two groups operate.
The proposed acquisition involves the Irish Examiner and irishexaminer.com; and the Evening Echo and eveningecho.ie. It also includes regional papers, the Laois Nationalist; KildareNationalist; Carlow Nationalist; Western People; Waterford News and Star; and the Roscommon Herald. The deal also involves breakingnews.ie; recruitIreland.com; benchwarmers.ie; and radio stations Beat 102-103 and WLR FM.
Last month, the regulator decided to extend its investigation to a second-stage investigation.
“During its investigation, the CCPC found no evidence that The Irish Times and the Irish Examiner are each other’s closest competitor in the publication and sale of daily national newspapers or in the sale of advertising,” the regulator said.
“In addition, the CCPC found that, post-transaction, both publications would continue to face competition from a number of newspaper publishers in all three potential markets identified by the CCPC,” it said.
It canvassed the views of competing media firms, advertisers, as well as industry groups.