In April this year, Tamedia AG purchased the Basler Zeitung, adding to its 50 German and French-language portfolio of media titles.
The Zurich-based Tamedia AG group owns news portals in most Swiss cities, as well as national outlets such as 20 Minutes and 24 Heures. The company also owns magazines, real estate and job portals.
"There is evidence that (Tamedia's) concentration creates or strengthens a dominant position in different markets," writes Switzerland's Competition Commission (COMCO).
According to a 2014 report by the University of Zurich, "Tamedia AG dominates the printed media scene in French-speaking Switzerland, with no less than 68% of the market, and has also been expanding into Italian-speaking Switzerland since the autumn of 2011 with 20 minuti."
"Tamedia AG controlled 41% of the press market in 2011. This made it the largest of the few major players within the press scene, where competition is scarce," added the University of Zurich's report.
Tamedia's press market share reportedly tripled between 2005 and 2011. In 2017, several French-speaking local print editions were discontinued by the group, leading to protests by some of the company's journalists. The closure of print editions as part of a savings plan at the company accounted for more than 200 jobs, according to an estimate by Swiss news portal Republik.
Journalists of Le Matin newspaper, part of Swiss publishing group Tamedia, hold placards during a demonstration on December 15, 2017 in Lausanne. A hundred protesters, mostly journalists, held a protest against the dismantling of the Swiss French speaking press by layoffs and the scheduled end of printed editions. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP.
COMCO cited Tamedia's potential dominance among German-speaking readers and the print and online media advertising and real estate classifieds markets as reasons for the investigation.
"There is evidence that the merger could create or strengthen a dominant position in the classified advertising market (print / online) of job vacancies in German-speaking Switzerland and the Basel region. In addition, there is evidence that the merger could create or strengthen a collective dominant position in the market for newspaper readers in the Basel region," states an August 7th press release by COMCO.
In August 2017, Tamedia merged its formerly editorially-independent 12 German-language media outlets under one editorial umbrella.
The COMCO statement cites fears of dominance by the group "in the market for the provision of national print advertising (in daily newspapers , Sunday, weekly and newspaper newspapers) in German-speaking Switzerland and in the classified advertising markets (print / online) of real estate offers in German-speaking Switzerland and the Basel region."
COMCO will explore how the concentration impact competition. A decision will be reached within four months.