The intervention, under Section 42 of the Enterprise Act 2002, was made on the basis of the submissions and information that the Secretary of State has received regarding the proposals.
The notice requires that Ofcom investigates the public interest consideration of media plurality that arises from the merger and submits a report by 28 September 2012. In addition, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will advise the Secretary of State on the competition and jurisdictional aspects of the transaction by 28 September 2012.
Separately, the merged parties have publicly announced that they will formally request a fast track reference from the OFT to the Competition Commission.
Mr Hunt said:
“On the basis of the information available to me, I have decided that under all the circumstances and, in particular the concentration of ownership which will occur in some parts of the UK, the merger may be relevant to the issue of plurality, particularly in those areas. Accordingly, I consider it appropriate to issue an intervention notice in this case, and I am therefore asking Ofcom to prepare a report advising me in greater detail about plurality.
“In addition, the legislation requires that OFT produces a report on the competition and jurisdictional aspects of the transaction, notwithstanding that the merged parties have indicated they would like a fast-track reference to the Competition Commission. When I receive the Ofcom report I will consider their independent advice carefully before deciding whether the matter should also be referred to the Competition Commission for a more detailed investigation of the plurality concerns.”
A further announcement will be made once the Secretary of State has considered OFT and Ofcom’s reports.
Notes to Editors
Read the intervention notice (PDF 90kb)
Read the guidance on when an intervention will be made on media plurality public interest grounds (PDF 72kb)
The notice requires Ofcom to investigate the merger’s potential impact on the public interest as it relates to ensuring the sufficiency of plurality of persons with control of media enterprises. In addition, the OFT will advise the Secretary of State on the competition and jurisdictional aspects of the transaction.
In the event that the Secretary of State decides, having considered the reports submitted to him, that merger should not be referred to the Competition Commission to consider the public interest considerations, the case will revert to a competition-only assessment and the OFT will make the reference decision, which will be published. Otherwise the Secretary of State will balance any competition detriment identified along with the specified media public interest considerations in making the decision as to reference, whether to accept undertakings in lieu of a reference, or whether to clear the merger ( para 4.21 of the Guidance).
Para 4.25 onwards of the Guidance sets out the Competition Commission’s role and responsibilities.
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