30 March 2021
On 5 January 2021, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) launched a second public consultation to seek views on the draft Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication and Media Services (“Code”) (“Second Public Consultation”). The Second Public Consultation was originally scheduled to close on 2 March 2021. Following requests from the industry for more time to submit their views and comments, IMDA extended the submission deadline from 2 March 2021 to 19 March 2021. At the close of the Second Public Consultation, IMDA received nine submissions from the industry and interested parties. Further information is available on the Public Consultation webpage on the IMDA website www.imda.gov.sg.
The Code will replace the existing Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication Services 2012 (also known as the Telecom Competition Code or “TCC”) and the Code of Practice for Market Conduct in the Provision of Media Services (also known as the Media Market Conduct Code or “MMCC”). IMDA conducted the first public consultation between February 2019 to 15 May 2019 on the proposed policy positions for a converged competition code to streamline the requirements under the TCC and MMCC (“First Public Consultation”). The objective is to ensure that a consistent regulatory framework is applied across both the telecommunication and media markets to the extent possible.
The feedback received from the First Public Consultation was largely supportive of the proposed policy positions. IMDA has reviewed and incorporated the comments into the draft Code, where appropriate. The Second Public Consultation will allow industry players to review the draft Code and share their comments with IMDA. Broadly, the Code covers the following areas:
- Market Overview and Convergence
- Regulatory Principles
- Dominance Classification and Duties of Dominant Entities
- Anti-Competitive Conduct
- Consumer Protection
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Resource Sharing
- Public Interest Obligations
- Telecommunication Interconnection
- Administrative and Enforcement Procedures
Key policy decisions
The Executive Summary of the Consultation Paper sets out IMDA’s key decisions on the consulted policy positions, after taking into consideration the views and comments received from the First Public Consultation. Set out below is a summary of IMDA’s key policy decisions:
- Harmonisation of framework for telecommunication and media markets: As the TCC and the MMCC are similar in various aspects, IMDA proposed to harmonise certain provisions that are substantively similar in effect. For example, standards for dominance classification, the review period for consolidation (complete review within 30 days or extend review period by up to 90 days for complex/novel consolidations) and the regulatory principles (including and not limited to promotion of effective and sustainable competition, and technology neutrality) for both the telecommunication and media markets. The industry was largely supportive of the proposals and hence, IMDA will proceed with most of its proposed positions in this regard.
- Common threshold for the presumption of Significant Market Power (“SMP”): IMDA will adopt a common 50% market share threshold for the presumption of SMP for both media and telecommunication markets. The SMP presumption threshold can continue to be rebutted with evidence of effective competition.
- Adopt “market-by-market” approach to dominance classification: IMDA will adopt the “Market-by-Market” approach for dominance classification in the telecommunication markets, i.e. dominant telecommunication licensees will not be presumed dominant for new services offered in new markets.
- Removal of services from the schedule of interconnection related services and mandated wholesale services: IMDA will proceed with the proposal to remove some of the network elements and services, and support facilities from the list of legacy services a dominant telecommunication licensee is required to offer to competing licensees to facilitate the interconnection of networks. There was general consensus from the respondents that some of the copper-based interconnection services were no longer being used by telecommunication licensees due to the transition to fibre-based networks.
- Enhanced consumer protection measures: IMDA will propose changes which include: (i) restricting detrimental mid-contract changes by all telecommunication licensees, (ii) enhancing transparency of billing information by requiring a list of minimum billing information in end users’ bills, and (iii) strengthening consumers’ understanding of contractual terms by requiring all telecommunication licensees to provide a Critical Information Summary which summarises the key terms and conditions to consumers at the point of subscription.
- Future developments and trends in digital economy: Respondents supported IMDA’s efforts to assess the impact of digital economy trends on competition policy but cautioned that over-regulation may impact innovation. IMDA notes that discussions on competition matters in the digital economy, though wide-ranging, are still developing and fairly nascent. IMDA will continue to monitor developments in the digital economy and will consult the public should there be changes to the competition framework.
IMDA notes that some of the policy decisions will entail amendments to the Info-communications Media Development Authority Act 2016 and that some drafting format and/or terminology in the Code may change as a result. IMDA will highlight the changes, if any, when IMDA issues the final Code.
The following materials are available on the IMDA website www.imda.gov.sg: