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Competition Appeals Tribunal: Outdoor media owners illegally fixed discounts for several years

07. November 2019

The Danish Competition Appeals Tribunal has upheld the decision by the Danish Competition Council stating that Clear Channel Danmark A/S and AFA JCDecaux A/S agreed to fix discounts in violation of the Danish Competition Act. The two companies are competitors and both sell outdoor advertisement space. The Competition Council will now refer the case to the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime.

Deputy Director General of the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, Bitten Thorgaard Sørensen:

“The companies had a common understanding not to compete to offer their customers the best discounts. This behavior is illegal and may have harmed media buying agencies and advertisers who have purchased outdoor advertising space.”

“Even though the agreements to fix certain discounts formally expired in 2010, the companies continued their illegal practice. The decision by the Appeals Tribunal shows that even though an illegal agreement may have expired, a continued concerted practice can still violate competition law.

In its’ decision, The Competition Appeals Tribunal states:

“On this basis, the Danish Competition Appeals Tribunal finds that Clear Channel Danmark and AFA JCDecaux, after the formal expiration of the 2010-agreement on December 31st., have had a concerted practice regarding the coordination of the discounts “media compensation”, “security compensation” and “information compensation”. This concerted practice is, like the agreements for 2010 and prior, covered by the prohibition in Art. 6(1) of the Danish Competition Act and TEUF art. 101(1).”

The Danish Competition Appeals Tribunal has upheld a decision by the Danish Competition Council in a case concerning illegal discounts. The decision states that the two competing outdoor media owners Clear Channel Danmark A/S and AFA JCDecaux A/S entered into illegal agreements and coordinated their behavior in order to maintain certain fixed discounts when selling advertising space in outdoor media.

Media buying agencies and advertisers may have paid a higher price for outdoor advertisement space as a consequence of these fixed discounts.
The Danish Competition Council will now refer the case to the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime, which may lead to the imposition of fines.

Outdoor media generally consist of any advertising space, which is physically located outside the consumer’s home. Examples include posters, billboards at bus stops, train stations, airports, shopping malls and around city centers.

In 2015 the total sales of outdoor advertisement space amounted to approximately 405 million DKK.