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Brussels 18th January – EU Commission Welcomes New Payment System Rules.
The EU Commission has issued new requirements designed to ensure the independence of payment card schemes and processing entities, to enhance competition in the card payment market. Retailers will be able to choose the most suitable processor for their card transactions, to the benefit of consumers.
Brussels 24th January – EU Commission Fines Qualcomm €997 million.
The EU Commission has found that Qualcomm abused its dominant position in the market for LTE baseband chipsets. The Commission ruled that Qualcomm had prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer (Apple) on condition it would not use chipsets produced by Qualcomm’s rivals in its tablets and smartphones. The Commission fined Qualcomm €997 million. It is the first Commission decision in an abuse of dominance case since the CJEU overturned its findings in Intel in September 2017.
Dublin 9th February – CCPC Announces Public Consultation on Household Waste Collection Market.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) announced that it was conducting a public consultation as part of its ongoing study of the household waste collection market
International Journal of Sport Finance 14th February – Revenue Sharing, Salary Caps and Competitive Balance in Rugby.
Joint selling and revenue sharing are generally prohibited under competition law. However, many sports leagues sell their TV broadcast rights collectively and share the proceeds among their member clubs. Some leagues also have salary caps which essentially limit the amount that clubs can pay their players. Leagues have frequently justified such practices as being necessary to ensure competitive balance and thus maintain supporter interest. In an article co-authored with Dr Vincent Hogan of UCD, Compecon’s Patrick Massey looks at the effect of the introduction of revenue sharing and salary caps in the English Rugby Premiership. The introduction of professionalism in rugby in 1995 resulted in a major upheaval in the sport. Competitive balance declined in both the English and French leagues. However, as clubs continued to pay players more, two English Premiership clubs went into administration in 1999. The league introduced revenue sharing and a salary cap to prevent further club collapses. The study finds that competitive balance subsequently improved in English rugby but found no corresponding improvement in the French Top14.
Click image to access a copy of this article.
Gijon 5th May – Bonus Points Led to More Balanced Matches in European Rugby Cup.
Compecon’s Patrick Massey presented a paper to the Annual Gijon Sports Economics Conference which showed that bonus points had resulted in closer (more balanced) matches in rugby’s European cup competition. The paper was co-authored with Dr Robbie Butler of UCC.
Dublin 20th June – Appeal Court Increases Bid-rigging Fine.
The Court of Criminal Appeal today increased the fine imposed on a former company director for his role in a bid-rigging cartel from €7,500 to €45,000. The original sentence was appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Court found that the original fine was “unduly lenient”. The lower court had also imposed a three-month suspended prison sentence on the man for obstructing the CCPC investigation and disqualified him from acting as a company director for five years. Compecon had advised the CCPC on the case.
Journal of Sports Economics 1st July – Study Finds Consumers Did Not Benefit from Greater “Competition” in Televised Football Market.
A new study has found that that the cost to UK subscribers of watching live FA Premier League (FAPL) football increased following the EU Commission’s intervention which prevented a single broadcaster acquiring the rights to all live match broadcasts. The study which is published in the Journal of Sports Economics was written by Compecon Director Patrick Massey and Dr Robert Butler of UCC. Following the creation of the FAPL in 1992, British Sky Broadcasting secured a monopoly on live broadcasting rights. From the start of the 2007-2008 season, the FAPL agreed to split its live match broadcasts into six packages of matches with no individual broadcaster allowed to purchase more than 5 of the 6, following objections by the EU Commission. The study found that both the overall cost to consumers and the price per game are higher with competing broadcasters than was the case when Sky had a monopoly on live FAPL matches. Effectively the Commission intervention has created two monopolies instead of one. The paper argues that further measures are needed to create genuine competition in the market for live televising of FAPL matches.
Click image to access a copy of the paper.
Has Competition in the Market for Subscription Sports Broadcasting Benefited Consumers? The Case of the English Premier League
University of Liverpool 31st August – Compecon’s Patrick Massey Presents Paper at ESEA Conference.
Compecon’s Director Patrick Massey presented a paper on home advantage, referees and the impact of TMOs based on an analysis of more than 1,800 Pro-14 matches played between 2003/04 and 2017/18. The paper was co-authored with Prof Peter Dawson of the University of East Anglia and Prof Paul Downward of Loughborough University.
Dublin 28th September – CCPC Calls for Establishment of Waste Industry Regulator.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission published its report assessing the household waste collection market. The CCPC’s report found that Ireland was unusual among EU Member States in having competition in the market for household waste collection with waste operators able to offer their services in any location, subject to licensing. The CCPC found that the household waste collection market exhibits characteristics of a natural monopoly, including strong local economies of density and scale, high fixed costs and a large cost advantage for a single operator.
Dublin 2nd October – Minister Announces Increase in Merger Notification Thresholds.
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. has signed an Order increasing the turnover thresholds above which mergers must be notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for approval before they can be implemented. The Order provides that mergers must be notified when the aggregate turnover of undertakings involved in a proposed merger or acquisition is greater than €60 million (up from €50 million) and two or more of the undertakings involved each has an individual turnover of more than €10 million (up from €3 million). The thresholds come into effect on 1st January 2019.
Dublin 2nd October – Integrated Single Electricity Market Goes Live.
The new integrated single electricity market officially “went live” with suppliers trading electricity on the new system. The new system is meant to favour the cheaper and more efficient generators and open Ireland up to imported power from other EU Member States. It has been claimed that the new arrangements could cut Irish energy bills by up to €200 million.
Dublin 2nd October – National Transport Authority (NTA) Announces Proposals for Licensing State Bus Companies’ PSO Routes.
The NTA has launched a public consultation on proposals for licensing of PSO routes currently operated by the State-owned Bus Companies, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann. The NTA is proposing that Dublin Bus would retain its existing PSO service levels at 2019 levels at least, and that there should be no further tendering of Dublin Bus routes before 2024. The NTA is, however, proposing that some Bus Eireann routes, mainly involving its commuter routes into Dublin should be put out to tender in 2021.
Dublin 10th October 2018 – Public Health Alcohol Bill Finally enacted.
The Public Health Alcohol Bill was passed by the Seanad thus completing its passage through the Oireachtas. It has taken three years for the legislation to be finally passed. The legislation provides inter alia for the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol which will perversely increase drink industry profits and, according to Oireachtas Library & Research Service, reduce Government excise duty receipts.
Dublin 1st December 2018 – NTA decides not to open any additional Dublin bus routes to competition.
The National Transport Authority announced that it had decided to award a new direct awards contract to Dublin Bus for a further 5 years and not to put any more routes out to tender.