IRTC may face court challenge

County Media and UTV may apply to the High Court for a judicial review of a decision by the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) not to allow the takeover bid by UTV for County Media to go ahead. The companies are likely to seek the judicial review within weeks.
On Monday, the IRTC decided not to allow the 100% purchase by UTV because they favour local ownership plus their guidelines only allow 27% ownership by an existing media company in another licensed station. However, on Thursday, Tánaiste Mary Harney gave her approval to the deal. A letter to County Media from the IRTC on Friday appeared to hold out an olive branch to the company, indicating that “the door remains open” for the UTV deal. The letter reiterated that a full review of IRTC ownership guideline policies will take place in April. “We have indicated a number of positive things to them and we hope that having reflected on that they would be in a position to reactivate a proposal with us,” chief executive of the IRTC, Michael O’Keeffe said. Despite the letter, County Media is understood to believe that a challenge through the courts remains it’s only option.