Swiss Competition Commission approves Tamedia’s takeover of Basler Zeitung

Swiss Competition Commission approves Tamedia's takeover of Basler Zeitung
Journalists of Le Matin newspaper, part of Swiss publishing group Tamedia, hold placards during a demonstration on December 15, 2017 in Lausanne. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP.
The commission found that Tamedia's takeover of the local daily will not impede effective competition in the regional media landscape.

The Competition Commission had investigated whether the takeover in April 2018 of the Basler Zeitung by Tamedia, owner of 20 Minutes, 24 Heures and more than 50 print and online titles in Switzerland, would create a “dominant position” in the local media landscape, preventing fair competition. 

“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 its latest statement, the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) acknowledged that “there is certainly evidence that the resumption of the Basler Zeitung could create or strengthen, with the NZZ / AZ group and the Ringier Group, a dominant position in the market for newspaper readers in the Basel region (REMP -Economic zone 31) as well as on different markets of advertisements in the Basel region and in German-speaking Switzerland.”

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New ownership will not affect this, argues the commission. “The change of ownership of the Basler Zeitung however has little influence on the market situation. The recovery does not result in the elimination of effective competition,” COMCO said in a statement on October 11th. 

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.

In 2017, several French-speaking local print editions were discontinued by the group, leading to protests by some of the company's journalists.

Tamedia purchased Basler Zeitung AG from Zeitungshaus AG and in turn transfers local dailies Zeitungshaus AG Tagblatt der Stadt Zürich AG and FZ Furttaler Zeitung AG to the Zurich-based publisher. “COMCO only examined the takeover of Basler Zeitung AG by Tamedia,” stated COMCO.

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