Frontier (Australia) Chairman, Philip Williams, has commented in The Australian today on whether there is a need for an additional regulator to police media acquisitions.
Earlier this year, the Federal Government's Convergence Review recommended the establishment of a new communications regulator. Such a regulator would have the power to examine changes in ownership of nationally significant businesses that produce content and would have the power to block a transaction if the proposal was not in the public interest. The Government is currently considering this proposal.
The article says that concerns about media ownership are concerns about product variety. A change in media ownership may mean a contraction in the variety of views that are available. But these issues are considered under the current merger test by the ACCC, the Competition Tribunal and the courts. To create a second regulator with a test that is only slightly different is likely to give rise to serious problems of overlap and serious disputes between regulators over jurisdiction.
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