Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has launched an investigation into the practices of TV broadcasters.
It will seek to find out if the sale of programme packages to operators, including cable networks, by broadcasters restrict competition and if broadcasters take advantage of their market position in the advertising market. UOKiK notes that broadcasters’ practices may be undermining their smaller competitors, as well as operators and consumers.
It adds that it has received numerous complaints, in particular from TV operators, about the way broadcasters sell their programmes. The initiation of the procedure was preceded by meetings and consultations with various entities operating on the market. Operators pointed out that they cannot choose individual programmes, or their purchase is economically unprofitable and therefore they have to purchase them in packages also when their programme composition is unattractive to customers.
This means that the consumer, namely the viewer, may also be deprived of a choice. The investigation will look at the relationship between broadcasters and operators, in particular cable TV and digital platforms. It will check, among others market structure, including whether broadcasters do not discriminate against competing operators, and whether they are not taking advantage of their dominant position in the advertising market.
Commenting on the investigation, Tomasz Chróstny, president of UOKiK, said: “Many consumers – TV recipients have a problem with access to their favourite programmes: they have to buy them in a bundle with those that they are not interested in at all. Packages can also be imposed on cable networks, and the cost is passed on to the consumer, who often receives an offer that differs significantly from his real needs as a viewer. One of the objectives of the procedure will be to check whether the reason for this situation lies at a higher level of turnover and it is the way broadcasters sell their programmes to operators, aimed at artificially creating airtime for advertising by broadcasters”.
UOKIK will investigate the impact of broadcasters selling their bundles of programs on advertising revenues and to what extent bundling may limit access to the market for smaller broadcasters.
UOKIK notes that the anti-monopoly law prohibits behaviour that violates competition – market dominants are not allowed, among other things, to use bundling or to unequally, discriminate against their contractors.
In concludes by saying that although the investigation is not aimed at any particular party, if it is found that broadcasters infringe the law they risk being fined up to 10% of their annual turnover.