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NMa Fines De Telegraaf for Infringement of Merger Condition

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has imposed a fine of EUR 22,500 on De Telegraaf Media Groep N.V. The fine was imposed for the infringement of any condition attached to the licence for the acquisition in 2000 of the daily newspaper, Dagblad De Limburger, by De Telegraaf. De Telegraaf was already the publisher of the daily newspaper, Limburgs dagblad. The condition requiredDe Telegraaf to guarantee the commercial and editorial independence of the two daily newspapers.

Partly following reports in the media, NMa investigated compliance with the licence condition by De Telegraaf in 2002. In this period, De Telegraaf made changes to the organisation and the operations of both daily newspapers. NMa gave its approval for these, provided De Telegraaf adhered to the conditions of the licence.

In 2004, partly due to a complaint, NMa once again investigated compliance with the licence condition. It emerged from this that contrary to the condition of the licence, there were not two independent newspapers, but a single news organisation and coordination of the editorial and commercial policy of De Limburger and Limburgs Dagblad. Copy is exchanged without limitation and the opportunities which the newspapers have to differentiate themselves from each other are not utilised to enable them to compete. For this reason, NMa decided to impose a fine.

In July of this year, NMa rejected an application by De Telegraaf to have the condition lifted. Last week, De Telegraaf again submitted an application to have the licensing condition lifted. This application was based on new data. NMa expects to take a decision on this application of shortly.