Tuesday, 06 April 2021 22:51

Press Release - Statement of Objections on the compliance of "ARGOS SA"

Subject: Statement of Objections on the compliance of the company "ARGOS SA Press Distribution Agency" with condition II.3 of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019, pursuant to article 25 par. 5 of Greek Law 3959/2011. 

The plenary session of the Hellenic Competition Commission (hereinafter the “HCC”) will convene on the 28th of May 2021 to examine, upon the basis of the relevant Statement of Objections, pursuant to Article 25 paragraph 5 of Greek Law 3959/2011 (“Greek Competition Act”), the compliance of the company “ARGOS SA Press Distribution Agency” (ARGOS) with condition II.3 of the operative part of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019, as regards specifically the period from 28.07.2020 onwards.

In particular, the HCC with its Decision no. 687/2019[1] (which was adopted in the context of an ex officio investigation of the HCC’s Directorate General for Competition and following a relevant request of the Minister of Economy and Development), had decided, unanimously, to order interim measures vis-a-vis the said company in view of the urgency to directly prevent an imminent threat of irreparable harm to the public interest and after having considered that an infringement consisting in an abuse of ARGOS’ dominant position in the press distribution market was likely and probable.

Subsequently, with its Decision no. 720/2020[2], the HCC found, by majority, that ARGOS had not complied with the obligations set out in the conditions II.1.3, II.2 and II.3 of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019[3].

The new Statement of Objections on the review of compliance of ARGOS with the condition II.3 of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019 (according to which ARGOS was required to distribute the Press of all publishing companies in accordance with its (then) commercial policy, until either the issuance of an HCC final decision[4] on the substance of the case or the successful outcome of the negotiations between ARGOS and all the publishing companies), makes the following findings, for the period from 28.07.2020 onwards (at least until the notification of the Statement of Objections)):

  1. ARGOS has complied with its obligation to distribute the Press of all publishing companies and in particular of those publishing companies that have not accepted the new commercial policy.
  2. ARGOS has not complied with the condition II.3 of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019 as regards its obligation to distribute the Press of eight (8) publishing companies, in view of the fact that it implemented its new commercial policy before the issuance of a final decision on the substance of the case and before achieving a successful outcome in the negotiations with the publishing companies (according to condition II. 2 of the HCC Decision no. 687/2019), as follows:

(a) as regards the publishing company BLACK AND WHITE SA, ARGOS’ non-compliance concerns the period from 28.07.2020 to 31.10.2020 (due to the non-application of an essential term of the current contract), as well as the period from 01.11.2020 onwards (due to the unilateral implementation of the new commercial policy);

(b) as regards the publishing companies DOCUMENTO MEDIA IKE, AVGI SA, ELLINIKOS TYPOS LTD, XRISI EYKAIRIA SA, EDYPOEKDOTIKI SA and ESTIA Group, ARGOS’ non-compliance concerns the period from 01.11.2020 onwards (due to  the unilateral implementation of the new commercial policy); and

(c) as regards the publishing company SABD SA,  ARGOS’ non-compliance concerns the period from 01.11.2020 to 04.01.2021 (due to the unilateral implementation of the new commercial policy).

Upon the basis of the above, the Statement of Objection proposes that the HCC:  

  1. impose on ARGOS the fine in accordance with condition II.4 HCC Decision no. 687/2019 for the violation described above. 
  2. threaten ARGOS with a fine, if with a new decision the HCC confirms the continuation or repetition of the established violation.

It is noted that the Statement of Objections is not binding on the HCC, which will decide on the case after it has taken into consideration all evidence, as well as the arguments put forward by all implicated parties.

 

 

[1] See  https://www.epant.gr/apofaseis-gnomodotiseis/item/919-apofasi-687-2019.html.

[2] See https://www.epant.gr/apofaseis-gnomodotiseis/item/1285-apofasi-720-2020.html

[3] See the press release and the published HCC Decision in detail https://www.epant.gr/apofaseis-gnomodotiseis/item/1285-apofasi-720-2020.html

[4] Pending, according to the Statement of Objection of the time that the discussion and the issuance of a final decision on the main case will take place and which will be discussed in the Plenary Session of HCC on 22/04/2021. See https://www.epant.gr/enimerosi/deltia-typou/item/1249-deltio-typou-aftepaggelti-erevna-stin-agora-dianomis-entypou-typou.html

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