The Achilles Heel to Newspaper Mergers: Product Market Definition

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For more than a decade, the traditional newspaper business model has been under threat, with an ever rising exodus of readers and advertisers to online and other sources of media. Print copy and advertising revenues have plummeted and, while seeking to embrace the digital era, newspapers have generally struggled to make a profit. Added to their woes, however, is that merger control regimes have proved highly reluctant to accept any widening of the traditional definition of the product market in which they operate, maintaining high barriers to merger clearance and thus frustrating attempts by newspaper groups to rationalize costs through consolidation. This article takes a critical look at the approach of competition authorities to date, focusing on the UK.