Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 31 January, 2007
Written Answers. - Competition Law.
Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the work of the Competition Authority in 2006; the number of mergers that, due to their nature, were referred to his Department rather than the Competition Authority for decision; the main points of these cases; his views on whether changes to competition law are required in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2556/07]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: The first part of the question relates to the day-to-day work of the Competition Authority which is the independent statutory body responsible for the enforcement of competition law in the State. Its mandate and functions are set out in the Competition Act 2002, as amended. The Competition Authority is statutorily required to publish an annual report of its activities during the year within 2 months of the end of its financial year and copies of this report are laid before each House of the Oireachtas. Also, the Chairman of the Authority is accountable under section 38 of the Act directly to the Oireachtas and is required to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee and to any other Committee established by either House of the Oireachtas in regard to the activities of the Authority.
Details of all notified mergers since 1st January 2003 are available from the Competition Authority and are published on its website, www.tca.ie. I have no function in mergers, other than in relation to media mergers. My role under the “media” provisions in the Act involves considering the acquisition in the context of the “relevant criteria” as specified by section 23 of the 2002 Act. These criteria essentially relate to media plurality/cross-media issues.
 During 2006, I was notified of 22 media mergers, none of which warranted further investigation, and the mergers were accordingly put into effect.
I am concerned that the current definition of a media merger is extremely broad and captures a significant number of transactions which are unlikely to be a cause of concern in the context of the criteria specified in the Act. Consequently, I am currently examining the relevant provisions relating to such transactions to see if some amendments might be required to allow for more efficient operation of procedures for vetting such media mergers. Any amendment required will likely relate to the definition of media merger and can be effected by means of secondary legislation.
More generally, my Department will commence a review of the operation of the Competition Act 2002 during the course of 2007 and a decision will be made after the completion of that review on the need to introduce changes to the current legislation.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. Competition Law.