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Brussels, 21st March 2005

Competition: Commission requests Sweden to end broadcasting services monopoly

The European Commission has formally requested Sweden to implement the Directive on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services (Commission Directive 2002/77/EC), and in particular to abolish the monopoly of state-owned company Teracom AB as regards analogue terrestrial broadcasting and transmission services. The Commission request takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If Sweden fails to comply within two months of receipt, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Competition Commissioner Ms Neelie Kroes said: “Sweden is depriving broadcasters of their right to perform certain services themselves, e.g. transmission, or to choose from whom to buy these services. In the end, it is Swedish viewers and listeners that suffer because the lack of choice of suppliers leads to higher costs and less innovation.”

Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services ensures that competitive market conditions prevail across the European Union in the markets for electronic communications networks and electronic communications services. The provisions of the Directive apply to networks used for radio and television broadcasting and for transmission and broadcasting services. According to the Directive, Member States were required to ensure, no later than 24th July 2003, that any company is entitled to operate such networks and provide such services.

However, Swedish broadcasters using analogue terrestrial broadcasting and transmission technology remain obliged to acquire broadcasting and transmission services exclusively from state-owned company Teracom AB, giving this company a monopoly for these services. This is in direct contravention of the Directive.

Companies directly concerned

The companies directly concerned by Sweden’s failure to comply with the Directive are broadcasters with licences for analogue, terrestrial broadcasting and transmission services, i.e. TV4 AB, Sveriges Television AB, Utbildningsradion AB and Sveriges Radio AB.

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