Denis O’Brien group sought State funds for public service content

Communicorp lobbied for financial support for output, new register shows

The technology company Facebook filed two returns for lobbying activity for the last three months of 2015

The technology company Facebook filed two returns for lobbying activity for the last three months of 2015

 

Media owner Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group, which owns Newstalk and Today FM, lobbied the Government for financial support for the public services content of its broadcasting output.

The media and broadcasting group made three returns to the Register of Lobbying in relation to lobbying activities in the last quarter of 2015.

They were among a total of more than 2,300 returns that were made online to the register’s website, lobbying.ie, by yesterday, which was the final day for filing the returns.

The group lobbied Minister for Communications Alex White seeking the financial support for public service content on its stationsto “create a level playing field with RTÉ”.

Requirement

In separate returns the group also raised the question of what it called the “viability” of the requirement on independent broadcasters to provide 20 per cent news and current affairs content.

It also lobbied for the abolition of the broadcasting levy.

In addition to the returns, more than 1,050 individuals, companies and organisations had also registered as lobbyists by last night’s deadline.

Some filed no returns for activity as they had conducted no specific lobbying activity between September 2015 and December 2015.

Sherry Perreault, the head of lobbying regulation, said last night that the volume of registrations and returns were in line with her expectations.

“I am delighted with the level of compliance we have received to date.”

She said her team would be conducing an analysis of the returns and said it would be attempting to reach organisations that might not have yet become aware that there was now a requirement to register for lobbying activity.

The technology company Facebook also filed two returns for lobbying activity for the last three months of 2015.

One was to senior officials and Ministers in the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Justice to “encourage the Government to consult the industry on any planned changes” to digital surveillance.

In an earlier engagement with the Department of Finance, Facebook sought to “modify the draft text that stipulates that individuals must be aged 16 or over to consent to their data being processed within the European Union. ”

The accountancy firm EY filed one return. It was in relation to Section 31 of the Finance Bill which relates to the “knowledge box” announced in the budget.

Incentives

The box is intended to offer financial incentives, including very low taxes, for patents, new technology, and research developed in Ireland.

The Government has planned for it to be a replacement for tax breaks such as the Double Irish which are being discontinued.

The EY submission states it lobbied the Department of Finance and sought a definition of “overall income” and “qualifying expenditure”.