ACCC Takes Aim at Cross Media Laws

The ACCC says it is possible that a new interpretation of the Trade Practices Act might prevent cross media takeovers.

The competition watchdog’s Chairman, Graeme Samuel, says the line between electronic and print media is fading.

The Act prevents acquisition of shares in a company, if it is likely to substantially affect competition in a market.

Under the former interpretations of the Act, if an electronic media organisation were to seek to acquire a print media outlet, the assumption would be that the Act would not apply because they are two separate markets.

In a speech to the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney, Samuel has indicated this is no longer the case.

“Technology has been changing in the media so fast that the former clear distinction between print and electronic media may now start to blur very significantly.

“It’s just possible that an organisation that has a substantial involvement in classified advertising on the internet may have face hurdles from the Trade Practices Act, if in was interested in acquiring, for example, major broadsheets.”

There has been widespread media takeover speculation since the Government gained a Senate majority in the wake of the 9 October election.

The Prime Minister has indicated a desire to push through legislation, allowing cross media ownership but, until now, has been blocked in the Senate.