In a stinging rebuke, Switzerland’s Competition Commission (COMCO) has imposed a sanction of CHF71.8 million on Swisscom and Cinetrade/Teleclub due to alleged prohibited marketing of sports content via pay-TV.
Swisscom 14 April 20162016 had begun well for the Swiss IPTV company but COMCO believes that Swisscom and Cinetrade/Teleclub occupy a dominant market position, particularly with respect to the broadcasting of national football and ice hockey events. It ordered that the two must offer all TV platforms in Switzerland – if technically feasible – an equivalent Teleclub sport offering at non-discriminatory terms and conditions. In July 2015, the COMCO Secretariat had petitioned the Competition Commission to impose a sanction of CHF143 million.
Swisscom and Cinetrade/Teleclub have always denied the allegations and maintain that the sanction is unjustified. They add that they are confident that confident that they acted lawfully in the marketing of sports content.
They say that as in other countries, broadcasting rights for sports programmes are granted periodically as part of an open process in which other interested parties, such as cable providers, can also participate. Swisscom stressed that these high levels of investment make sports broadcasts attractive for pay-TV and justify an expanded sports offering via the Swisscom TV platform. This, says Swisscom, is the only way in which the investments can be sufficiently protected.
Following the judgement, Swisscom said that it will carefully review the more than 200-page decree and that given the very high fine and the decision’s fundamental character, an appeal will be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court and, if necessary, the Federal Supreme Court. Swisscom regards its chances in the appeal procedure as intact and, based on its current assessment, is therefore not setting aside any provisions.