The European Commission decided to block today a proposal by Austrian broadcasting regulator KommAustria, as it is not compatible with the EU telecoms rules and principles of competition law.
Following two months of in-depth investigation the Commission required KommAustria to withdraw plans for continued regulation of the wholesale market for analogue terrestrial radio transmission in Austria. Such plans would place the national radio broadcaster (ORF) at an undue competitive advantage over other broadcasters.
The Commission is particularly concerned regarding the lack of competitive developments on this market. KommAustria proposed to impose a practically unchanged set of regulatory obligations but excludes from the regulated market the supply of radio transmission services by Austrian Broadcasting Service (ORS) to its parent company ORF.
ORF and its competitors depend on ORS’ transmission network for the broadcasting of their content. As a result, ORF would receive a different and arguably better service than its direct competitors and, as the majority owner, can influence ORS’ decisions concerning infrastructure developments (such as where to build radio transmission masts). According to the plans of KommAustria, ORF is also subject to different price conditions than competing radio broadcasters.