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IMDA Consults on a draft Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication and Media Services

Jan 11 2021 | by OrionW

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched a second public consultation to seek views on the key policy decisions made in its draft Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication and Media Services (Draft Code). The second consultation started on 5 January 2021.

The media and telecommunications markets have been governed by separate codes since the early 2000s: the Media Market Conduct Code (MMCC) and the Telecom Competition Code (TCC) respectively. IMDA’s first consultation, which took place in February 2019, sought to obtain the public’s views on a converged code, the need for which IMDA saw as being driven by five key macro technology and business trends:

  1. Transition to Internet protocol (IP)-based services on the Nationwide Broadband Network (NBN);
  2. Increasing competitive edge of service bundling;
  3. Increasing competition from non-traditional digital services and platforms;
  4. Growth of Over-the-Top (OTT) media services; and
  5. Diminishing reach of traditional media platforms.

The Draft Code aims to promote fair and efficient competition, enhance consumer protection and improve regulatory clarity to encourage licensees to develop new and innovative services.

IMDA proposes to harmonise similar provisions in the TCC and the MMCC under the Draft Code including the standards for dominance classification, regulatory principles promoting effective and sustainable competition and the timeline for IMDA’s review of any acquisition or consolidation involving licensees.

Dominance Classification and Reduced Regulatory Burden on Dominant Licensees

Under the MMCC, a media licensee is presumed to have Significant Market Power, and therefore to be dominant, if it has a market share of at least 60%, while the TCC requires only 40% for telecommunications licensees.

Given the changes in the market structures for both the telecommunications and media sectors, IMDA proposes to adopt a common 50% market share threshold for the presumption of Significant Market Power.  However, this presumption remains rebuttable.

In addition, the TCC and MMCC currently follow different approaches in classifying dominant licensees.  IMDA proposes to adopt the market-by-market approach taken in the media markets, where a licensee will be classified as dominant based on the specific market or facility.  In this regard, dominant telecommunications licensees will not be presumed to be dominant for new services offered in new markets but are required to prove to IMDA that the new services are not part of any existing markets in which they are classified as dominant.

Enhanced Consumer Protection Measures

IMDA proposes a common set of rules to better protect consumers’ interests.  The proposed key changes include:

  1. preventing any mid-contract changes to the price, terms and conditions of any fixed term agreement that are detrimental to end users by all telecommunication licensees;

  1. requiring a list of minimum billing information to be included in end users’ bills; and

  1. requiring all telecommunications licensees to provide, at the point of subscription, a Critical Information Summary of key terms and conditions to end users with fixed term contracts longer than one month.

Future Developments and Trends in the Digital Economy

While IMDA did not change its position on policy decisions since the first consultation, it will continue to engage the industry to better understand how new digital business models may affect competition dynamics.  In the meantime, organisations and licensees should be aware of the changes made under the Draft Code and assess their existing internal policies and procedures to ensure compliance when it comes into force.

For more information

OrionW regularly advises clients on telecommunications and media matters.  For more information about the draft Code of Practice, or if you have questions about this article, please contact us at tmt@orionw.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.