How do European policymakers and media companies react to the AOL‐TimeWarner merger? In this short provocation, Marsden asks whether the successful coupling of the world’s largest ISP and media content creator signal le defi americain in communications, for Europe and the rest of the world? In particular, he questions whether market actors should be permitted a similar role in Europe. In competition policy terms, the question is whether creation of economies of scale and scope, particularly through vertical integration between carriers and content providers, now causes increasing redundancy of media‐specific ownership laws at a national level in favour of European industrial policy? The outflanking policy trend is demonstrated specifically in the merger of Vodafone‐Mannesmann, and the content alliances formed with Vivendi, and between Vodafone, Vivendi and variously BSkyB and Manchester United. Even if symbolic debate continues to give primacy to democratic principle, European public policy may switch poles, from denying concentration of media on democratic principle of pluralism of ownership, to encouraging European champions to compete with the Americans. This convergence debate will centrally occupy policymakers, with new national legislation and Commission Directives in all probability preceded by critical merger decisions by the Competition Directorate.
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