NMA Welcomes Peers’ Recommendation To Maintain Judicial Review Standard For Appeals In DMCC Bill

The News Media Association has welcomed the Lords Communications and Digital Committee’s recommendation to government that two critical mechanisms within the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – the judicial review appeals standard and the threshold for big tech to access the countervailing benefits exemption – must not be watered down. 

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “We strongly welcome the Committee’s clear and explicit recommendation that judicial review is the appropriate standard for appeals against Competition and Markets Authority regulatory decisions and should not be changed to full merits appeals or judicial review-plus. Maintaining the judicial review standard is critical to the success of the new regime.

“We also welcome the Committee’s conclusion that government ‘should resist any changes that would lower the threshold’ to access the countervailing benefits exemption. If widened, the exemption could give big tech a ‘get out of jail free card’ for anti-competitive conduct.

“It is vital to the success of the new regime that these critical mechanisms within the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill are not watered down, so the Bill can deliver on its core objective of unlocking the full potential of the UK digital markets.”

Owen’s evidence is quoted extensively in the letter Committee’s letter to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP.

On the issue of tackling anti-competitive leveraging behaviour, Owen was quoted as saying: “The CMA should be able to act where a designated company’s activity in a non-designated area is related to a harm that is being caused in that area. As an example… if Apple was designated for its App Store but was using contracts within Apple News to force unfair terms on publishers relating to how they use the App Store, the CMA needs to be able to address that concern.”

The NMA believes the Bill’s anti-leveraging requirement should be amended so the CMA can tackle all instances of anti-competitive conduct that are linked to big tech’s entrenched market power in a designated activity.