The Irish media merger regime has a long history and remains a complex part of Irish regulatory law and politics. Given the recent sharp increase in mergers of Irish and global media businesses – reflecting dramatic levels of decline in 'traditional' media consumption and 'e-substitution' leading to pressure to consolidate – the Irish media merger regime is affecting all corners of the global industry.
The Department for Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently published the report of the Advisory Group on Media Mergers. The department has indicated that legislation to reform aspects of competition law is to be enacted in 2009, but the extent to which the Advisory Group's recommendations are to be followed remains to be seen.
The minister for finance has signed a commencement order introducing changes to Section 481 of the Finance Act 2008 regarding relief for investment in film projects. This follows the European Commission's state aid approval of the amendments during the preceding week. The effect of the change is to increase the maximum amount of Section 481 funding that a project can avail of from €35 million to €50 million.
In a recent case the Supreme Court has demonstrated that it is prepared to allow libel actions to proceed notwithstanding considerable delays in their prosecution. However, this appears to depend upon a number of factors, most notably on how the defendant has pleaded in the proceedings.
Ireland’s film and television industry has received an early Christmas present with the announcement of significant enhancements to the Section 481 relief for investment in film and television projects. The net effect of the changes is expected to be a large increase in the producer’s 'net benefit' available to each Section 481 project.
The Defamation Bill 2006 will modernize defamation law and looks certain to become law in early 2009. The media have been urging a reform of defamation law for over a decade. There is consensus that defamation law is both antiquated and unfairly pro-plaintiff. While the core principles of defamation law remain intact, the bill contains a large number of notable innovations.
Regulation of the printed press in Ireland has an uneven history. For many years, there has been a consensus that regulation is desirable, but much less consensus on the form that regulation should take. Proposals for a government-appointed Press Council met with hostility from the industry, which had established a Press Industry Steering Committee in 2003 to “agree a model for self-regulation”.
The Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003 became law on July 1 2003. The act strengthens the privacy rights of individuals, as it imposes stricter obligations on those who process personal information. In essence, every function that can be performed on information is covered by the definition of 'processing' under the act.
When looking for a partner to provide IT outsourcing services, the buyer must have a clear picture of its own processes and costs, and realistic expectations of the service provider. It should also engage in a tendering process which provides clarity for both parties as to what the buyer requires, and ensure it has sufficient protections and flexibility to run the process.
It is critical that outsourcing agreements can cope with change, and provide each party with robust yet flexible mechanisms enabling them to work through their evolving requirements. They should also allow the parties to disengage from one another as quickly and cleanly as possible. This update examines some of the key areas of an outsourcing arrangement which require careful 'future-proofing'.
On July 25 2003 the legal basis for provision of electronic communications networks and services will change, and licences to provide relevant networks and services will be replaced by an authorization regime. Anyone will be able to avail of a 'general authorization' provided they conform to certain general conditions to be set by Ireland's telecommunications regulator.
As the surge in the number of Irish outsourcing projects continues, a rigorous approach to the drafting of technical specifications and documents is needed. These will have a crucial impact on the success or otherwise of the outsourcing negotiation process and of the outsourcing itself. Key issues to consider include the use of warranties and a quality management system.
The Commission for Communications Regulation assumed responsibility for the communications sector in December 2002, replacing the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation. It has been given increased powers to regulate the sector, for example by increasing penalties and by imposing material requirements on network operators in relation to road openings.
In recent years Irish companies have shown increased interest in outsourcing business functions to third parties, particularly in the IT sector. This update explains the concept, identifies some of the legal issues and describes the key priorities for any business seeking to outsource IT services.
A recent bill allows for the creation of a new statutory body, which will assume responsibility for the development of Ireland's Digital Hub project. Among other things, the initiative involves the deployment of broadband infrastructure and the establishment of a range of business support facilities.
The long-awaited Communications Regulation Bill was passed into law in April 2002. The bill was a major lobbying point for many technology and telecommunications companies, which consider its enactment essential for the development of broadband technology in Ireland. This update outlines its main provisions.
The competition for the allocation of 3G licences in Ireland was finally launched in December 2001. The launch had been delayed for over a year due to a difference of opinion between the minister for finance and the director of telecommunications regulation over the price of the licences. The licences will be awarded by way of a beauty contest.
A decision was recently handed down in the long-running litigation between Meridian Communications Ltd and Eircell, the former mobile subsidiary of the incumbent telecommunications operator. The judge found for Meridian on a number of contractual issues but rejected Meridian's contention that Eircell had breached competition law.
The Independent Radio and Television Commission is inviting submissions on its ownership guidelines for independent broadcasting, including independent commercial radio stations.
The Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation has published its latest quarterly review of the Irish telecommunications market. The review shows an increasingly competitive telecommunications environment, with a significant rise in the mobile penetration rate.