Brussels, 2 nd July 2009
State aid: Commission opens an in-depth investigation into restructuring of TV 2 Denmark
The European Commission has opened a formal investigation on the restructuring aid package of TV 2 Danmark A/S. The Commission will investigate whether the aid complies with the EU rules on state aid to companies in difficulty (see ), and in particular whether TV 2 Danmark A/S is viable without continued state support and whether the restructuring plan contains enough safeguards commensurate with the state support. The opening of an in-depth investigation is common for state interventions of this magnitude and complexity and will ensure legal certainty. It also gives interested parties the possibility to submit their comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.
EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “Public broadcasting is a service of general interest that contributes to public information, democratic debate and cultural objectives in Europe. The restructuring of TV 2 Danmark should ensure its long term viability for its commercial and public service activities alike. In the interest of legal certainty the Commission is inviting stakeholders to give their views before taking a decision”.
TV2 Danmark A/S was incorporated in 2003 as a private limited liability company wholly owned by the Danish State. TV2 Danmark A/S operates the public television channel TV 2 as well as a number of commercial channels including TV2 Zulu, TV2 Charlie and a news sport television channel TV2 Sports.
In the course of 2008, TV2 Danmark A/S experienced serious liquidity problems which were temporarily addressed through a credit facility approved by the Commission as urgent rescue aid (see ). In line with the EU Guidelines on state aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty (see ), the Danish authorities have now notified a restructuring plan aimed at restoring the long term viability of TV2 Danmark A/S. The restructuring plan runs between 2009 and 2012.
The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to receive stakeholders' views on several key aspects. Firstly, whether TV2 Danmark A/S's financial prospects would condemn it to going out of business without long term state support. Secondly, whether the introduction of user charges on TV2's public service channel would be, on balance, positive for competition and whether such charges should be phased in automatically by 2012 without a market test. Thirdly, whether the only measure proposed to mitigate the distortion of competition brought about by the state support, namely not to launch new pay channels, is proportionate to the strength of TV2 on the Danish market.
Denmark has so far chosen to provide support under the general rules which apply to the restructuring of firms in difficulty, rather than the specific rules concerning the compensation of public service costs of public broadcasters. Indeed, the public funding provided to TV 2 Danmark A/S benefits not only the public service TV2 channel, but also commercial activities of the broadcaster. The specific rules for public service broadcasting would therefore not apply to the restructuring plan in its current form.
The opening of a formal investigation procedure does not prejudge whether the measures concerned are in line with the EU state aid rules. It is a necessary step to ensure legal certainty for the aid beneficiaries and their business partners and provides an opportunity to take account of comments from interested parties to improve the measures. Previous aid granted to TV2 Denmark, including the rescue aid approved by the Commission in August 2008, is currently subject to judicial proceedings brought by competitors before the Community Courts.
The text of today's decision, with any confidential information removed, will be published in due course in the Official Journal of the European Communities, together with a summary in all Community languages.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 64/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News .