18 June 2015

French Competition Authority fines TDF €5.6 million for abuse of its dominant position

The French Competition Authority (the FCA) has fined TDF, a broadcasting network operator, for practices implemented regarding the Eiffel tower broadcasting site.

On 24 March 2006, the city of Paris launched a call for tender to renew the occupancy agreement to operate the Eiffel tower broadcasting site in which TDF was the incumbent and historic monopoly holder.

Following a complaint by a competitor, towerCast, the FCA ordered interim measures in 2007, ordering TDF to provide the FCA with an offer to accommodate radio broadcasts which would allow alternative broadcasters to compete effectively with TDF.  TDF also committed to limiting its broadcasting contracts with the radio stations to one year.

On 11 June 2015, in its decision on the merits of this case, the FCA sanctioned TDF for the following practices:

  • the information TDF sent towerCast to enable it to respond to the Eiffel tower call for tender was late and incomplete;
  • the information TDF sent towerCast regarding broadcasting from the Eiffel tower site was similarly late and prevented towerCast from making competitive offers to the radio stations;
  • TDF implemented a margin squeeze, preventing towerCast from presenting a competitive offer to the radio stations.

The fine, which includes a 25% increase for repeat offending, is composed of:

  • a €5 million fine regarding the renewal of the Eiffel tower site.  The basic amount of the fine was set at a fixed price, due to the lack of TDF’s value of sales, the seriousness of the practices and the significant damage to the economy; and
  • a €660,000 fine for restriction of competition in the upstream market for the wholesale broadcasting of radio broadcasts and for the margin squeeze.

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