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COMPETITION

Switzerland probes national news agency

Switzerland's competition watchdog said on Thursday it has launched an investigation into the Swiss news agency, SDA-ATS, due to evidence of illegal competition restrictions.

“The preliminary investigation has revealed evidence of illegal behaviour,” by Switzerland’s national news agency, the Comco commission said.

The investigation will seek to show whether SDA-ATS has abused its dominant position and if it has impeded competitors.

The investigation so far has revealed evidence that the price system of the SDA-ATS was “designed to weaken the competition to push them out of the market,” Comco said.

It also found the news agency prevented market entry of other news agencies in Switzerland.

“The Competition Commission examined in particular the circumstances that led to the cessation of business rival AP SDA Switzerland in February 2010.”

“The discount policy of SDA-ATS, including through exclusive, and combined offers, is at the forefront of the investigation,” the commission said.

The editor of SDA-ATS Bernard Maissen told AFP: “SDA-ATS, as the national news agency, owned by Swiss media, attaches great importance to equal treatment of all media and a transparent tariff system.”

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COMPETITION

Swisscom fined millions for dominating sports TV

Switzerland's main telecomms group Swisscom has been fined 71.8 million Swiss francs ($72.5 million, 64.70 million euros) for abusing its dominant position in sports broadcasting, the Swiss competition authorities said on Tuesday.

Swisscom fined millions for dominating sports TV
Photo: Swisscom

The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) said Swisscom had gained a “dominant position in live broadcasting of games of Swiss football and ice hockey championships as well as of certain foreign football leagues on pay TV.”
   
This was mainly because one of its subsidiaries, Cinetrade, owns exclusive rights regarding the broadcast of sports content on Swiss pay TV, COMCO said.
   
“Swisscom has abused this dominant position in several respects,” it said, pointing out that the company for instance only granted competitors access to a reduced range of sports content.
   
“With these practices, Swisscom has gained an advantage in the competition between TV platforms in an illicit manner,” the competition authority said.
   
Swisscom and Cinetrade insisted in a statement that they “refute these accusations and consider … this sanction unfair.”

“Swisscom will carefully review the more than 200-page decree that has now been handed down,” it said. “Given the very high fine and the decision’s fundamental character, an appeal will be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court and, if necessary, the Federal Supreme Court.”

Last year the telecomms company was fined 186 million francs for improper pricing of broadband services after as a result of an investigation begun ten years earlier.

The original judgement of 219 million francs was reduced on appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

Swisscom has since lodged a further appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.

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