Market Investigation in the Press Distribution Sector

First Phase

On December, 23rd 2020, the Hellenic Competition Commission (“HCC”) has decided ex officio to launch a market investigation in the press distribution sector pursuant to Article 11 Law 3959/2011. Press Release January 14, 2021.

On March, 23rd 2020, the HCC has issued its first interim report with respect to the conditions of competition in this sector and launched its first public consultation lasting 30 days and inviting interested parties to comment. 

The interim report focuses on the lack of effective competition in this sector with a focus on the market for printed press distribution. It discusses the structural and institutional characteristics of this market where a single distribution agency exists. The interim report discusses the legal framework and the structure and competitive conditions in the sector and highlights those characteristics that affect competition in the market for printed press distribution. It then discusses the monopolistic structure of the printed press distribution market, with a particular focus on the distribution agency (Argos) and finally presents the problems creating a possible adverse effect to competition.

In particular, according to the interim report, the structure of the single press distribution agency with the participation of publishers-shareholders in its share capital may create incentives for potential coordination and possible unilateral behaviour benefiting the publishers-shareholders over rival shareholders.

The interim report is available here (in Greek) and here the related press release.

The HCC has assessed the market for printed press distribution in its relevant Opinion according to Article 23 Law 3959/2011. 

The Opinion highlighted certain concerns with respect to the structure and organisation of this market and proposed to the regulator the adoption of a range of relevant measures to address these concerns. See here (in Greek)

The market investigation in the press distribution sector according to Article 11 Law 3959/2011 examines structural market problems and does not look into individual commercial practices by the Agency, which are the subject matter of a different case.

First Public Consultation:

The first public consultation lasted from 24-3-2021 until 22-4-2021. For the submissions see here (in Greek).

Second Phase

The second interim Report (here in Greek) concludes that there is a lack of effective competition in the press distribution sector and proposes remedies to restore competition in the sector.

The measures examined in the Report include: 

  • Changes in the corporate governance of the sole press distribution agency
  • Chinese Walls
  • Policy to avoid conflicts of interests
  • Setting up an advisory committee
  • Prior notification of changes in the shareholding of the sole press distribution agency
  • Code of Conduct
  • Appointment of a Trustee
  • Collective Bargaining between publishers and the press distribution agency and / or between end points of sale (kiosks) and the press distribution agency
  • Creating a Joint Venture 
  • Natural Monopoly Regulation

The Report assesses the above remedies and proposes the remedies that (according to article 11 (3) Law 3959/2011) are absolutely necessary, appropriate and in accordance with the principle of proportionality to create conditions of effective competition in the press distribution sector.

Following the second public consultation the HCC will issue its final Report.  

Second Public Consultation: 

The second public consultation will last from 6.10.2021 until 8.11.2021. Interested parties are invited to submit their comments (in editable format) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  until 8.11.2021. Any responses beyond the deadline and / or modified responses to the public consultation will not be taken into account.

Market Investigation in the Press Distribution Sector

 

 

 

Latest Updates

  • 07 October 2021 - Market Investigation in the Press Distribution Sector – HCC Second Interim Report, more here.
  • 23 March 2021 - Publication of the HCC Interim Report and Launch of the First Public Consultation, more here.
  • 23 December 2020 - HCC Decision to launch the market investigation, more here.
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Q & A

- General Questions: Purpose of the Market Investigation in the Press Distribution Sector

The HCC has launched this market investigation because there appears to be a lack of effective competition in the press distribution sector and in particular in the market for printed press distribution, which cannot be remedied with the application of Articles 1,2 and 5-10 Law 3959/2011.

Following the publication of the first interim report finding that there appears to be a lack of effective competition in the press distribution sector and in particular in the market for printed press distribution, the HCC launches the first public consultation. The first public consultation will last 30 days.

Following the completion of the first public consultation and after taking into account the comments received, the HCC will issue its second interim report proposing competition-enhancing remedies. The second interim report will also be put to public consultation lasting another (minimum) 30 days.

The final HCC decision of the EA will be published after the completion of the two public consultations with a decision horizon in 4-5 months at the latest.

According to the interim report, in the press distribution sector and in particular in the market for printed press distribution, there is a lack of effective competition, which cannot be remedied with the application of Articles 1,2 and 5-10 Law 3959/2011.

The interim report focused on the monopolistic market structure and the existence of a single press distribution agency and applied the theory of vertical common ownership to the shareholder structure of the agency. In particular, according to the interim report, the structure of the single press distribution agency with the participation of publishers-shareholders in its share capital may create incentives for potential coordination and possible unilateral behaviour benefiting the publishers-shareholders over rival shareholders.

The HCC has appointed a team of internationally recognized experts to assess the incentives of publishers-shareholders. Their analysis, with the limitations identified therein, suggests that due to Argos’ shareholding structure, there is an incentive for the distribution price to be higher than that in case of non-participation of publishing companies in its share capital.

 

The structural problems identified in the press distribution sector and any other issue discussed in the interim report.

- Public Consultation

The first public consultation will last from 24-3-2021 until 22-4-2021. Interested parties are invited to submit their comments (in editable format) providing their name to competition@epant.gr until 22-4-2012.

Please note that any submission beyond this deadline will not be accepted.

You are invited to submit your comments (in editable format) providing your name to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until 22-4-2021.

Please note that any submission beyond this deadline will not be accepted.

The comments will be published on the HCC dedicated website indicating the identity of the legal person submitting them. The submission of the views of a legal entity participating in the public consultation is made by its legal representative. Comments by natural persons not representing a specific institution or undertaking will be published anonymously, unless the author expressly consents to the mentioning of his / her name and / or contact details.

If you wish your comments or part thereof to be treated as confidential, please make a statement to that regard.

In particular, you should clearly identify the part of your comments that is confidential and, if possible, provide it in a separate annex. The HCC treat this information as strictly confidential.

See Announcement of the Competition Commission of 13.1.2015 regarding the classification of confidential data and the manner of submitting a non-confidential version of documents (in Greek).

Until 22-4-2021 at the latest.

Please note that any submission beyond this deadline will not be accepted.

Participation in the public consultation is open to anyone who is able to provide useful information and comments on any or all of the issues that are the subject of the market investigation in the press distribution sector. Any person can take part in the public consultation, regardless of the invocation of a legal interest.
We would greatly appreciate participation by:

  • publishing companies
  • companies operating at any level and market of the press distribution sector
  • business consultants, law firms and companies, economists
  • representatives of the university community and researchers
  • consumer associations or individual consumers

 

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Procedural matters

The HCC, with the aim of protecting the safety and health of workers and collaborating citizens, as well as ensuring the smooth operation of the Services and ensuring the public purposes it performs and serves, stipulates the following for the period from Wednesday, 24/03/2021 until Thursday, 22/04/2021:

HCC offices will be staffed with security personnel, while most of the staff will work remotely.

Submission of documents in person or by mail will no longer be possible. Citizens & Businesses are required to use only the following e-mail addresses:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for participating in this consultation,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for submitting documents to the HCC,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for submitting notices of concentrations,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for filing complaints,

or through the Hellenic Competition Commission's website form for submitting general questions or information requests.

Communication with the Directorate-General can be possible either by e-mail from the list of HCC staff, or by the following telephone numbers:

  • Protocol: +30 210 - 8809139 or +30 210-8809331
  • Directorate of Administrative & Financial Support: +30 210 - 8809209
  • A' Operational Directorate: +30 210 - 8809236
  • B' Operational Directorate: +30 210 - 8809217
  • Directorate of Legal Services: +30 210 - 8809248
  • Commission
  • Office of the President, Vice President and Rapporteurs: +30 210 - 8809202
  • HCC's Secretariat: +30 210 - 8809215 or +30 210-8809212 (for issues of organization of hearings and issues of the Plenary Session of the Commission)
The HCC Plenary Session will hold scheduled meetings and conferences via a teleconference platform after user authentication.
The legally binding deadlines still apply to the work of the HCC and HCC will continue to carry out its work, review its cases (including concentrations) and make decisions - through the immediate adjustment of its staff to teleworking. At the same time, it will continue to monitor the schedules, providing extentions where permitted. Any amendment shall be notified to the parties concerned and posted publicly on the HCC website.

The HCC will return with newer relevant announcements if required by the circumstances.

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Timeframe

  • 23.12.2020 - Launch of the market investigation in the press distribution sector
  • 23.03.2021 - Publication of the first interim report discussing the lack of effective competition according to Article 11 Law 3959/2011
  • 24.03.2021 - Launch of the first public consultation lasting 30 days and inviting interested parties to submit comments
  • 22.04.2021 - Last day to submit comments to the first public consultation
  • 06.10.2021 - Launch of the second public consultation lasting 30 days and inviting interested parties to submit comments
  • 06.11.2021 - Last day to submit comments to the second public consultation
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Communication

If you have any questions, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can submit your comments (in editable format) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For press inquiries you can contact us at +30 210 – 8809202.

According to Article 41(2) Law 3959/2011, as in force (without prejudice to Article 37 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure) officials of the Directorate-General for Competition are required to keep confidential the confidential information of undertakings, associations of undertakings or other natural or legal persons, which they receive on the occasion of the service (such as sales, prices, trade policies etc.). See also the relevant provisions in the HCC Rules of Procedure and the HCC Communication on privacy.

The Personal Data sent to the HCC will be used exclusively for the promotion, support and implementation of HCC responsibilities. Whenever HCC collects and uses Personal Data, it does so in the context of the implementation of the main public mission and its purposes, that is, to be able to answer your questions and contact you about anything else related to HCC activities.

The HCC will not disclose to any third party and will not use your Personal Data in collaboration with it, unless it has your clear consent. More information can be found here.

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