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Broadcasting regulator retains cap on radio ownership

Broadcasting regulator retains cap on radio ownership

A cap on the ownership of commercial radio stations has been maintained by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, despite calls from some stakeholders for its removal.

The BAI today published its revised policy on the ownership and control of Ireland’s broadcasters.

This sets out the criteria considered as part of a new licence application, or the proposed transfer of a service to different owners.

Included in that is a bar on an individual or group owning more than 25% of the country’s commercial radio services, something that has been retained in the 2019 update.

Some submissions received as part of the consultation process – from companies including Communicorp and The Wireless Group – called for the rule to be relaxed or removed entirely.

They argued that ownership should be considered in the context of all types of media, as opposed to solely radio, and said the growth of digital platforms made the existing cap less relevant than before.

In a statement the BAI said it had given “careful consideration” to those calls, however it remained of the view that the upper limit was “appropriate”.

The updated policy also sets out new criteria to consider when judging the character of those seeking ownership of a broadcast licence.

This includes looking at whether an individual has had adverse findings made against them in relation to tax, gross professional misconduct or anti-competitive conduct.

The BAI will also now consider whether there is “sufficient and demonstrable commitment to achieving and sustaining impartial, credible and independent journalism” as part of a broadcaster’s proposed news and current affairs programming.

Alongside its revised document on ownership the BAI also published its new Media Plurality Policy, which clarifies the measures taken by the association to promote a greater diversity of content and ownership amongst broadcasters.

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