In Switzerland, the competition year 2018 has been marked by two topics: On the one hand, the Swiss Competition Commission (Comco) has fined a bid rigging cartel in Lower Engadin, thus deciding another case in a series of 10 procedures regarding construction cartels in the Canton of Grisons (under appeal). The anti-cartel activities of the competition authority are being welcomed widely by the public. However, question marks have been put over another set of decisions: Comco has cleared this year several media mergers that lead to more concentration in newspaper and advertising markets. Although competitive concerns have been identified the conditions for intervention were not met. Comco has been criticized for not sufficiently taking into account the aspect of media diversity in these decisions. It was a great challenge for the authority to explain the absence of public policy arguments in merger control, at least on the level of the procedure before the competition authority. Consequently, it will be important for the authority’s communication to explain not only the goals and achievements of competition law but also its deliberate limitations.
Prof Dr Andreas Heinemann is President of the Swiss Competition Commission and holds a chair at the University of Zurich.