Media ownership assessment proposed and transferred to the Competition Authority

In the recent proposed amendment to the Competition Act, Norway’s government proposes that media ownership shall be exclusively governed by the Competition Act. 

The Ministry of Culture sets out that the purpose of the proposed changes is to simplify the regulations; making sure that the media businesses only need to deal with one set of rules and one authority in the assessment of mergers and acquisitions.

Media diversity is proposed to be included in the Competition Act in such manner that media ownership no longer needs to be subject to special regulation − meaning that (lack of) media diversity can be considered a harmful effect and constitute grounds for preventing a transaction due to loss of diversity and competition which undermines the quality to the consumers. 

The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) shall, under the proposed regulations, consult the Media Authority as an expert body in media merger or acquisition cases.

Currently the proposed amendment to the Competition Act is subject to a consultation procedure; the deadline for submitting all comments is 29 September 2015.

Conclusion in the investigation of dominance: wholesale distribution of beverages

The NCA has concluded its investigation of dominance in relation to transition to wholesale distribution of beverages.

The investigation was initiated on the basis of a complaint made by the Consumer’s Advisory Counsel on 17 April 2015. In the complaint the NCA was asked to prevent a distribution takeover from two breweries to Norgesgruppen. It was argued that the takeover could have been made possible by pressure from Norgesgruppen and that such pressure could constitute misuse of market power (dominance) in one or several markets.

No misuse of market power was found, as the NCA found no grounds for the allegations of excessive pressure in the distribution takeover processes in question.