NMa Sets Conditions for Wegener Daily Newspapers in Gelderland
Wegener may not increase the prices of the company's daily newspapers in Gelderland more than in the rest of the country. The regional editions of De Gelderlander must be maintained and Wegener must support new entrants. The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has stipulated these requirements. The requirements are derived from the conditions which NMa stipulated in relation to the acquisition of VNU's daily newspapers by Wegener in 2000.
In order to guarantee competition in the Gelderland region, Wegener is obliged to co-operate fully in the sale of other publications. An investigation by and on the instructions of NMa showed that there was little likelihood of selling Arnhemse Courant and the three editions of Gelders Dagblad in their original form, but that there were buyers interested in purchasing at least parts of these daily newspapers.
In order to maintain the effect of the original conditions set by NMa, Wegener will also be bound by a number of obligations which apply as of today for a period of three years. Wegener is obliged not to increase the prices paid by subscribers and advertisers in the area by more than the increase in the prices of its other daily newspapers. Wegener must also maintain editorial editions of De Gelderlander which clearly focus on parts of the region. Wegener must continue to make it possible for regional and local advertisers to advertise in parts of the coverage area.
NMa has also imposed an obligation on Wegener to offer, for instance, advertising services and support in the area of transport and delivery at competitive prices to companies which wish to enter the regional daily newspaper market in Southeast Gelderland.
Wegener is required to report to NMa every six months on the implementation of these obligations and their possible practical consequences.
In March 2000, NMa set conditions for the approval of the takeover by Wegener of VNUs daily newspapers. This was necessary to ensure, for instance, that Wegener would not acquire a dominant position in Gelderland. To guarantee competition in the region, Wegener was required to sell a number of daily newspapers.
Wegener filed a judicial appeal against NMa's decision and the Court of Rotterdam granted the appeal in part. Following this, Wegener merged Gelders Dagblad and Arnhemse Courant with De Gelderlander. In December 2001, on appeal the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal [College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven] overturned the Courts ruling. This means that Wegener did not fulfil the conditions set by NMa.