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Brussels, 17th October 2006

Competition: Commission takes Sweden to Court for failure to end broadcasting services monopoly

The European Commission has decided to refer Sweden to the European Court of Justice for its failure to change rules giving state-owned company Boxer TV-Access AB a monopoly to provide access control services in Sweden’s digital terrestrial broadcasting network. According to the Directive on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services (Commission Directive 2002/77/EC), Sweden had to abolish all monopoly rights for broadcasting transmission services by July 2003. However, Sweden has so far failed to abolish Boxer TV-Access AB’s monopoly. The referral to the Court is the final stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “I regret that I have had to refer Sweden to the Court, but Swedish viewers should no longer be denied their right, guaranteed by Community law, to choose digital terrestrial TV suppliers. I welcome Sweden’s agreement in principle to modify its broadcasting legislation but it is now time for the Swedish Government to fulfil its promise without any further delay.”

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 Directive applies to networks for radio and television broadcasting and for transmission and broadcasting services. According to the Directive, Member States are required to ensure that any company is entitled to operate such networks and provide such services.

However, Swedish broadcasters using digital terrestrial broadcasting and transmission technology remain obliged to acquire access control services exclusively from Boxer, giving this company a monopoly for these services. This is in direct contravention of the Directive.

Access control services comprise the encryption and decryption of TV-signals (pay-TV) and the provision of decoders, set-top boxes, smart cards and other devices.

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