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Communications Act 2003

Schedule 18: Transitional Provisions

936.The principal paragraphs of this Schedule have been described in connection with the applicable sections.

937.Paragraphs 59 to 62 of this Schedule set out the transitional arrangements that will apply on commencement of the provisions of Chapter 2 of Part 5 of this Act.

938.Paragraph 59 provides that the new provisions introduced in this Chapter will not apply to any transfer of a newspaper or of newspaper assets that has already taken place as at the commencement date of these provisions. In addition, any transfer for which an application for consent has been made, but not determined, at the date of commencement will continue to be considered under the special newspaper merger provisions in the FTA 1973.

939.If, however, an application is made that falls within section 59(2) FTA 1973 because it is “expressed to depend” on the Secretary of State exercising a discretion in that Act not to refer the transaction to the Competition Commission, then the effect of paragraph 59(2) of this Schedule is that only that “expressed to depend” application will fall within the transitional saving of the FTA 1973 provisions. If the Secretary of State’s consent is not given without a reference, but the parties then decide to pursue the merger after the provisions of Chapter 2 of Part 5 of the Act take effect, it will then be treated as a merger under the EA 2002, as amended by these provisions.

940.Paragraph 62 sets out provisions applying to conditional consents that have been given under the FTA 1973. On implementation of the provisions of Chapter 2 of Part 5 of this Act existing consents will be unaffected and will continue in effect as consents given under the FTA 1973. However, where these consents have conditions attached to them, such that the party concerned is subject to ongoing obligations, paragraph 62 provides that the Secretary of State may accept undertakings in lieu of the conditions on the consent. Acceptance of an undertaking will be at the Secretary of State’s discretion but, if accepted, any such undertaking would then be treated as equivalent to an undertaking given to the Secretary of State in a public interest case under the EA 2002 (see paragraph 9 of Schedule 7 to the EA 2002). Such undertakings could relate to competition and/or to general public interest obligations and so in deciding whether to accept such undertakings the Secretary of State can, in particular, consult with the OFT and/or OFCOM.

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