ACCC Cools Media Shake Up Expectations

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it will rethink its attitude towards cross media ownership and competition policy, if the market lines continue to blur between print and electronic media.

ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, has appeared on Channel Nine’s ‘Business Sunday’, cooling expectations of a media shake up, in the wake of the Coalition’s 9 October election win.

He says the ACCC could well be a major brake on cross media ownership, if the Government introduces planned changes to its media laws.

Samuel says if this happened, the ACCC would have to review how it assessed the different media:

“In the past, we have consistently taken the view that if an electronic media network were to acquire a print media network, well they were separate markets, and perhaps section 50 of the Trades Practices Act would not apply.

“However, new technology and the convergence of media markets over recent years means the separation of print and electronic media outlets would start to blur.

“That sort of change is potentially now well upon us. And, certainly over the next year or two, if some of the forecasts as to convergence and new technology do in fact take place, I think those market lines will start to blur quite significantly.”

Samuel says the ACCC’s main concern is to ensure the fundamental objective of the competition policy is maintained and consumers continue to have a choice.

“This means choice in the context of classified advertising and display advertising, as well as choice in the context of entertainment.

“In the choice of news and information, (consumers should have) choice as to the ability to acquire news and information from various sources that might be available to them.

“The ACCC could well be a major brake on cross media acquisitions, particularly in the context of the way convergence now is starting to blur traditional lines of market definition that we had in the past.”