The Competition Commission has conducted an in-depth examination (Phase II) into the creation of a joint venture between Swisscom, SRG SSR and Ringier. Swisscom is the leading telecommunications provider in Switzerland, SRG SSR is Switzerland's public service radio and television broadcaster and Ringier is one of the most important media enterprises in the home market. The joint venture will market the advertising space of Swisscom, SRG SSR and Ringier, as well as those of third parties. Alongside the increased collaboration in online marketing advertising, television, radio and print media, the partners plan to introduce through Swisscom TV television advertising tailored to target groups. The partnership is in response to strong international competitive pressure exerted by search engines such as Google or social networks such as Facebook.

According to the commission's press release, it is anticipated that the joint venture will rank among the strongest market players in marketing advertising content.(1) However, the joint venture will face significant competition in online advertising, television, radio and print media. In addition, the development of the market for targeted television advertising is uncertain. Under the circumstances, the commission considered that a removal of effective competition in the relevant market was unlikely. Therefore, it found that the conditions for a prohibition (or an authorisation subject to conditions) were not fulfilled. The commission can intervene later if it appears that the joint venture has achieved a dominant market position.

The Swiss merger control regime features a high standard of assessment compared with those in other jurisdictions, which is sometimes called the dominance-plus test. Pursuant to Article 10 of the Competition Act, the commission must prohibit a concentration or authorise it subject to conditions or commitments if the investigation:

  • indicates that the concentration will create or strengthen a dominant position;
  • is capable of eliminating effective competition; and
  • will cause harmful effects that cannot be outweighed by any improvement in competition in another market.

For further information on this topic please contact Pascal G Favre at CMS von Erlach Poncet Ltd's Geneva office by telephone (+41 22 311 00 10) or email (pascal.favre@cms-vep.com). Alternatively, contact Patrick Sommer at CMS von Erlach Poncet Ltd's Zurich office by telephone (+41 44 285 11 11) or email (patrick.sommer@cms-vep.com). The CMS von Erlach Poncet Ltd website can be accessed at www.cms-vep.com.

Endnotes

(1) Available at www.news.admin.ch/message/index.html?lang=fr&msg-id=59997 (in German or French).

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.