Competition watchdog bars radio group takeover

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), the Polish anti-trust regulator has banned the takeover of the radio group Eurozet by the media group Agora, the owner of “Gazeta Wyborcza,” one of Poland’s leading newspapers.

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“The transaction could have created a duopoly and marginalised the remaining radio groups and stations as the two leading radio groups (Eurozet and RMF FM) would have had a combined 70 percent share of the market,” UOKiK announced in a press release.

Agora owns newspapers, radio stations and an advertising agency, while Eurozet focuses on the radio market and owns several stations along with internet websites, including the very popular Radio ZET and its website.

“The operation of the two capital groups overlaps mainly in broadcasting radio programmes as well as sales and brokerage of advertising time,” UOKiK wrote.

A concentration application was filed with the regulator in October 2019. In November 2020, the watchdog presented its objections to the move.

UOKiK president, Tomasz Chrostny, explained that a prohibition on concentration is issued when a merger would involve serious negative consequences for the market and when it is not possible to agree conditions that would eliminate the disruption to competition.

“The concentration would create a strong radio group, causing irreversible disturbance to competition on local and national markets of radio advertising and radio broadcasts,” Mr Chrostny added.

The decision is not final. Agora announced that it would appeal against the ruling at a consumer and competition protection court. “Such a decision is a disgrace for the UOKiK,” the company wrote, adding that it was made with a violation of anti-monopoly and administrative law.