The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today wrote to Newsquest Media Group and Archant Community Media, advising them that I am “willing to” issue notice of intervention. This relates to my concerns that there may be public interest considerations – as set out in section 58 of the Companies Act 2002 – which are relevant to the recent acquisition of Archant Media by Newsquest Media and that these concerns warrant further investigation.
A letter of “intent to” was therefore sent to the parties on a public interest ground specified in section 58 of the Companies Act 2002:
(2B) The need, so far as is reasonable and practicable, for sufficient plurality of opinion in newspapers in each market for newspapers in the United Kingdom or part of the United Kingdom
It is important to note that I have not made a final decision on the intervention at this point. In accordance with statutory guidelines on media mergers, the letter “of intent to” invites the parties to make additional representations in writing and gives them until April 29 to respond. I will then make my final decision, which must be made on a quasi-judicial basis, as to whether or not to issue a notice of intervention.
If I decide to issue a notice of intervention, the next step will be for Ofcom to assess and report to me on the public interest concerns and to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) at assess and report to me on whether a relevant merger situation has been created and any impact this may have on competition. Following these reports, I will decide whether or not to refer the matter for further investigation by the CMA under section 45 of the Companies Act 2002.
I will keep Parliament informed of developments in this media merger case.