Whose Regulation, Which Competition?
ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Hanns Ullrich
Chapter 7: Mergers in the Media Sector: Business as Usual?
Laurence Idot* I INTRODUCTION The subject at hand calls for two general and preliminary remarks. Firstly, the very fact that the topic of mergers in the audiovisual sector was selected assumes that this domain constitutes a category especially suited to the issue chosen for this conference: ‘The Evolution of European Competition Law. Whose Regulation, which Competition?’ In addition, the subtitle ‘Business as usual’ added by the organizer of this convention, Hanns Ullrich, is decidedly provocative. Does this indicate that in this particular domain business concerns take priority over more general considerations such as plurality of opinions or cultural diversity? It is still too soon to respond to this query, but consideration should be given to the European Parliament’s report of 5 April 2004 concerning the violation of freedom of expression and information laws in the European Union, and most notably in Italy. We will not go further into this debate, as the aforementioned report is based on a study, carried out in eight member states by the European Institute for Consumer Affairs, to which the author did not have access. However, as regards the present topic, it should be pointed out that the level of concentration of ownership is already quite elevated in several countries (in particular the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy), is particularly high in several of the new Member States, and that the Parliament has indicated its wish for a directive on the protection of pluralism in European media.1 To begin, how exactly should the term ‘media’...
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