Welcome from Brent Alderton – May 2017

Welcome to this edition of Bulletin.

We have had a number of matters before the court in the last couple of months including one that resulted in the first jail sentence in a prosecution initiated by the Commerce Commission. Vikram Mehta, owner of mobile trader Flexi Buy Limited (Flexi Buy), was sentenced in the Auckland District Court in March to 2 years imprisonment after taking money from customers without intending to supply goods as promised. This is the seventh mobile trader to be sentenced by the courts with fines totally nearly $700,000. A further four mobile traders are due to be sentenced in the next 2 months.

At the beginning of the month we declined to grant authorisation for the proposed merger of NZME Limited and Fairfax New Zealand Limited. The Commission’s preliminary view, published in November last year, was that the merger would be likely to substantially lessen competition in advertising and reader markets. It also indicated that the merger would not be of such a benefit to the public that it should be allowed. Those views remain largely unchanged. You can read more about our decision in this edition of Bulletin.

In our regulatory area we released our final decision on our review of the non-price features of the Unbundled Bitstream Access (UBA) service. UBA enables retail telecommunications companies to provide internet services over Chorus’ copper network without installing their own equipment in exchanges. The main change was the addition of a standard that ultimately requires Chorus to keep the UBA service free of congestion as traffic usage grows, helping to keep pace with consumer demand.

Preparations for our Competition Matters conference are in full swing. This two-day event offers sessions in the competition, regulation and consumer areas, including breakout sessions where delegates can choose the session most suited to them. The conference is being held at Te Papa on 20 and 21 July – please see our conference website for more information. You can also read about one of our speakers, Professor Ralph Winter in this edition of Bulletin.