On February 2015 the Competition Authority once again recalled that companies which do not respect the commitments made to end proceedings brought against them will risk significant fines.
Les Indés Radios, an economic interest group (EIG), acted as intermediary between local radio stations and advertising management to allow local radio access to the national advertising market. The EIG was the subject of a 2006 complaint filed by Canal 6 for having insufficient objectives and transparent admission and leaving conditions. Admission conditions to a common structure grouping must be objective, transparent and non-discriminatory. In order to end the proceedings, the EIG made commitments regarding conditions for:
- belonging to the EIG;
- the EIG admission procedure;
- leaving the EIG; and
- exclusion from the EIG.
The EIG implemented these commitments by making the necessary changes to its bylaws and internal regulations. However, during subsequent control by the Competition Authority, it was noted that the EIG later made numerous modifications, a number of which were contrary to the commitments. The EIG had made the commitments with no specific limits on duration, and although it was free to make subsequent modifications they had to respect the measures taken to deal with any anti-competitive concerns.
The EIG's failure to respect such commitments was serious and highlighted the fact that the observed breaches were incompatible with the freedom-to-conduct business and affected the competition which the commitments were seeking to preserve. The authority fined the EIG €300,000 (5% of its income) and issued an order subject to penalty for the EIG to modify its internal regulations to ensure compliance with the commitments. This is a clear reminder that the authority monitors companies which avoid penalties by making commitments, even years later. Companies should remain vigilant in ensuring that they properly respect competition law.
For further information on this topic please contact Emmanuelle van den Broucke or Sara Pomar at Dentons by telephone (+33 1 4268 4800) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Dentons website can be accessed at www.dentons.com.
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