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CNMC threatens Mediaset, Atresmedia with €100m fines

January 10, 2019

Spain’s Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), the National Commission of Markets and Competition, will sanction commercial broadcasters Mediaset and Atresmedia for an abuse of their dominant position, according to business daily El Economista.

The fine can be up to 10 per cent of the sales of each of the two groups in 2018, which would amount, in both cases, to some €100 million. However, observers say, in reality, fines would actually fall in a range between €15 million and €30 million. The only way to avoid sanctions would be for the two companies to reach a pact with the CNMC and to commit to the immediate cessation of abusive practices – what is known as a conventional termination agreement – but that currently seems unlikely. Atresmedia and Mediaset have claimed at all times before the CNMC that the alleged illegalities are common commercial practices in the television market throughout the world.

The Investigation Directorate of the CNMC has sent the parties the so-called statement of facts, so that within a period of 15 days they present their case. From that moment, a proposal for a sanction will be drafted, which will be sent directly to the Commission’s council for its opinion.

For the time being, and after ten months of investigation the CNMC has certified that both Mediaset and Atresmedia have violated the Law on the Defence of Competition (Ley de Defensa de la Competencia) by establishing their respective contracting conditions with advertisers and media agencies. It alleges such practices consist of requiring advertisers and agencies to comply with minimum advertising investment quotas in their respective television channels, under a system of bonuses and penalties, in addition to the joint contracting of advertising in different channels at the same time of each of the operators.

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