BAI publishes Ownership and Control Policy (2012)

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (“BAI”) today, 26th April 2012, published the BAI Ownership and Control Policy (2012). This replaces the current policy which was operational from 2010.

The policy has been updated to reflect the legislative provisions contained in the Broadcasting Act 2009 (“the 2009 Act”) and the contents of the BAI Strategy Statement 2011-2013. The BAI Strategy states that the maintenance of plurality of ownership, content and viewpoint is a central element of the Authority’s vision on behalf of the public. The Policy also reflects the outcomes of a public consultation on the BAI Broadcasting Services Strategy which was undertaken in the final quarter of 2011.

The 2009 Act requires that the BAI endeavours to ensure the provision of open and pluralistic broadcasting services and the promotion of diversity in control of the more influential commercial and community broadcasting services.

The Ownership and Control Policy (2012) sets out the regulatory approach that the BAI will take and the rules that will be enforced regarding the ownership and control of broadcasting services. The policy will be used by the BAI to assess applications for broadcasting contracts and when assessing requests for variations to the ownership and control structures of contract holders.

The overall policy objectives, grounded in the statute, remain relatively unchanged.  In terms of details, the 2012 policy sets out a number of factors that will be considered by the BAI should an operator or applicant wish to hold between 20% and 25% of the total number of commercial sound broadcasting services (see threshold 3). The upper threshold of 25% is maintained.

The policy also notes that a new Consumer and Competition Bill is expected to be published by the end of 2012. The BAI will take into account the content of any such legislation particularly the extent to which the concept of concrete indicators of diversity is introduced in respect of media acquisitions and mergers.

Speaking about the publication of the policy, Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the BAI said: “This policy seeks to balance the needs of a rapidly evolving indigenous broadcasting sector with the statutory requirements of promoting open and pluralistic broadcasting services and diversity in viewpoint, outlet and source in the interests of listeners and viewers”.

A copy of the BAI Ownership and Control Policy (2012) is available here

Media Queries to:

Tony Heffernan/ Catherine Heaney

DHR Communications

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