Serbia: SBB investigated over abuse of dominant position

Serbia’s Commission for the Protection of Competition has initiated an inquiry to establish whether leading cable TV operator SBB abused its dominant position.

According to local media reports, the Antitrust launched the procedure after SBB announced it will increase the monthly subscription from 1 January 2018. The inquiry will analyse the conditions of competition in the Serbian media distribution market, to determine the justification for the price hike.

If the analysis shows that the increase in prices was unjustified or excessive, the Commission has the option of imposing a fine on SBB, which may amount to up to 10 per cent of annual revenue.

For its part, SBB points out that it informed users of the change one month ahead, as prescribed by the Law on Electronic Communications. It also highlights the fact that it continuously offers innovative services and enhanced content, recalling that, in the last two months, it added 11 new TV channels to its offer.

Last March, the Commission gave the green light to SBB for the acquisition of Belgrade-based cable operator Ikom under certain conditions. These include the sale of parts of the infrastructure in Belgrade and the obligation to notify the Commission of any increase in the prices of its services for the next two years.

Data from telecom sector regulator Ratel show that SBB had a 48 per cent market share at the end of the third quarter of 2017, ahead of Telekom Srbija with 25 per cent. According to some estimates, SBB is the dominant operator in the capital Belgrade with a 70 per cent market share.

SBB is part of United Group, a regional cable and DTH operator owned by US investment fund KKR.

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