The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has today released a draft version of its updated Media Merger Guidelines, which explain its approach to assessing media mergers. The ACCC is now seeking comments ahead of finalising the draft later this year.

“The release of revised guidelines is timely given the significant changes taking place in the media environment and the potential impact of these on competition and the mergers considered by the ACCC,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“These changes arise from the impact of new technology on the media sector and, potentially, from the government’s proposed changes to Australia’s media control and ownership rules. The removal of these restrictions would create the potential for new mergers in the Australian media sector.”

The ACCC’s general approach to its merger assessment is not sector specific. However, features of the media industry give rise to some particular issues. Those issues and their relevance to ACCC media merger reviews are explained in the revised guidelines, including competition issues associated with:

  • a reduction in the number of media rivals and the potential impact on media diversity,
  • impact of technological change and media innovation,
  • the role of premium content.

While the guidelines cannot provide an indication as to whether a particular merger might or might not be cleared by the ACCC, they do seek to give parties contemplating a media merger, and those potentially affected by a media merger, a greater awareness of some of the key issues the ACCC may focus on.

Case studies are also used to illustrate how the ACCC has looked at particular issues in the past, in the context of ACCC decisions in previous merger reviews.

The ACCC welcomes comments on the revised draft by Friday, 14 October 2016.

The draft Media Merger Guidelines and details regarding the consultation process can be found at Draft Media Merger Guidelines.

Notes to editors

The ACCC intends to release the final version of its Media Merger Guidelines later this year after considering the feedback received. The ACCC first published Media Merger Guidelines in 2006 to explain its approach when assessing media mergers.