Economic, political and socio-cultural welfare in media merger control : an analysis of the Belgian and Dutch competition authorities reviews of media mergers
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Information economics and policy. - Amsterdam
, p. 2-15
University of Antwerp
The premise of consumer welfare in competition law entails that National Competition Authorities (NCAs) weigh both economic and non-economic interests of consumers against those of producers. This contribution distinguishes between economic, socio-cultural and political welfare to evaluate whether NCAs examine a mergers impact against the width of consumer interest. A claim analysis is conducted of the NCAs formal decisions on eight selected cases of proposed media mergers. The analysis shows that, in recent years, these NCAs pay attention to non-economic interests of consumers, but remain vague as to, first, what interests in particular are at stake; second, who the stakeholders are; and, third, how these interests are weighed. The results suggest potential to increase consumer welfare by safeguarding the medias political and socio-cultural role in particular. To this end, first, the perspective of individuals as citizens must prevail; second, specific tests must review the impact of media mergers on political and socio-cultural welfare; and, third, NCAs and Media Regulatory Authorities (MRAs) must bundle strengths.