Brussels, 5th June 2008
Competition: Commission ends Court proceedings after Sweden abolishes Boxer's exclusive right in digital terrestrial broadcasting services
The European Commission has withdrawn its case against Sweden at the European Court of Justice after Sweden amended its Radio and TV Act. In particular, Sweden abolished the licensing system that gave the partly state-owned company Boxer an exclusive right to handle certain digital terrestrial broadcasting services in breach of EU law. The Commission had decided to refer Sweden to the Court in October 2006 (see IP/06/1411).
Under Article 2 of Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications services ("the Competition Directive") Member States had to abolish by July 2003 all exclusive rights for the provision of electronic communications services, including the encryption of broadcasting programmes.
However, the relevant Swedish legislation provided that access to all digital terrestrial broadcasting programming and services should be controlled by a single open system for the entire network and that Boxer should construct, install and maintain this encryption system and be responsible for the handling and distribution of the common access card. In practice, this system led to a situation where Boxer was the only company that could actually provide not only encryption but also the distribution of digital TV programmes in Sweden via the terrestrial network.
Following the Commission's decision to refer Sweden to the Court, Sweden amended the system that gave Boxer the illegal monopoly. Today no legal obstacles prevent new entrants from competing with the former monopoly. The Swedish authorities now need to ensure that the implementation of the new system also will lead to effective competition, so that the Swedish consumers can enjoy the benefits of a better choice of service providers.