Following an extensive investigation the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) today announced that they have cleared the proposed transaction whereby 'The Irish Times Designated Activity Company' (which publishes The Irish Times) would acquire sole control of Sappho Limited (which publishes the Irish Examiner) from Landmark Media Investments Limited.
The CCPC also announced that the extensive phase two investigation had found the proposed transaction would not substantially lessen competition in the relevant markets.
The CCPC went on to reveal that all parties must now submit a separate notification to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for assessment on grounds relating to media plurality.
The CCPC’s extensive investigation analysed the likely competitive impact in the State of the proposed transaction in the following three potential markets: (i) the publication and sale of daily national newspapers; (ii) the sale of daily national newspaper advertising; and (iii) the sale of online advertising.
In addition, the CCPC’s investigation found that there is no overlap between the parties’ activities in relation to the provision of radio broadcasting services and the sale of radio advertising.
As part of its investigation, information was gathered by the CCPC from a range of third parties, including competitors, advertising customers and industry representative bodies.
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 (whether in daily national newspapers or online) in the State.
The CCPC’s analysis also found that, while sales of The Irish Times are predominantly made in Leinster, the vast majority of sales of the Irish Examiner are made in Munster.
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.
Based on an extensive analysis, the CCPC concluded that the proposed transaction will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market in the State. Further details of the CCPC’s announcement are available on ccpc.ie.
Following the issuing of the CCPC’s determination, the parties must submit a separate notification to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Section 28 of the Competition Act 2002 sets out the process by which the Minister for Communications will assess the merger separately in relation to media plurality.