The Dutch Competition Authority (“NMa”) imposed fines on the Dutch media company Koninklijke Wegener N.V. (“Wegener”) and five of its executives, totaling more than EUR 20 million. The NMa imposed the fines for non-compliance with remedies imposed in 2000 in connection with the acquisition of publishing company VNU Dagbladen by Wegener. Wegener’s fine totals EUR 19 million and because of the active role five of Wegener’s executives played, they have been personally fined a total of EUR 1.3 million. In addition, the NMa ordered Wegener to comply with the remedies imposed in 2000 within a year. Failure to do so will result in penalty payments of EUR 1 million per quarter with a maximum of EUR 20 million.
In the instruction (remedy), the NMa demanded that the independence of both newspapers would continue to be guaranteed, so that readers would continue to enjoy their freedom of choice, and so that price increases and reader selection reductions would be prevented. However, an NMa investigation revealed that both newspapers have completely ignored this instruction since 2002 with both companies working closely together, exchanging articles and harmonising their newsgathering activities.
During the investigation of the NMa into the non-compliance of the remedy, Wegener submitted a request to the NMa, in which it asked the NMa to revoke the remedy (instruction). The NMa is currently considering the request, and is expecting to reach a decision in early autumn.
Source: www.nmanet.nl, 14 July 2010