More media companies settle in price-fixing case

Two more media companies have agreed to a settlement related to a price-fixing case by the Competition Commission.

The matter involves 28 companies, which the commission referred to the Competition Tribunal earlier this year. So far eight companies have agreed to settle.

The case dates back to an investigation in November 2011, which found that various media companies agreed to offer similar discounts and payment terms to advertising agencies that placed advertisements with members of Media Credit Co-Ordinators.

“The Commission found that the practices restricted competition among the competing companies, as they did not independently determine the discounts and thereby fixed the price and trading terms in contravention of the Competition Act,” the commission said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.

Companies which have reached settlements include Media24, which agreed to pay a R14m settlement. Other companies include Caxton, which agreed to pay a fine of over R5.8m and Independent, which agreed to pay over R2.2m. DStv media sales also previously agreed to pay a R22.2m settlement.

Most recently, Mediamark has agreed to a penalty of over R1.013m, and United Stations will pay a fine over R420 000.

The parties “admitted” to price-fixing and fixing trading conditions, which contravenes the Competition Act.

Both companies also agreed to make contributions to the economic development fund, collectively more than R500 000.

They will also provide 25% in bonus advertising space for every rand of airtime bought by qualifying small agencies – meeting the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act criterium – for three years.

Mediamark will provide space of R2.5m and United Stations will provide R1.5m annually. They will also provide full cooperation to the commission until the litigation is finalised.

They will also have to commit to development, implementation and the monitoring of a competition law compliance programme as part of their respective corporate governance policies, the commission said.

Fin24 is part of Media24.

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