Serbian competition authority clears national commercial broadcasters’ distribution agreements

by ZS Law

The Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition has cleared agreements regarding the exclusive customer allocation between Serbia’s national commercial broadcasters Prva and B92 and Kopernikus Cable Network.

Regulation on agreements between undertakings operating at the different level of production or distribution chain exempted from prohibition (Official gazette of the RS, No 11/2010), defines exclusive customer allocation agreements as agreements under which the supplier agrees to sell his products only to one distributor for resale to a particular group of customers. As per the data published by the Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications, in Serbia there are 84 registered operators providing media content distribution services, mostly via cable, DTH satellite and IPTV, while two operators alone, SBB and Telekom Srbija, control 75% of the market. In case at hand, Prva and B92 agreed to assign Kopernikus Cable Network rights to distribute their channels to all providers of media content distribution services, other than SBB and Telekom Srbija.

In 2005, Serbia replaced its 1996 Antimonopoly Law (Official gazette of the SRJ, No 29/1996), that never gained any practical importance, with the modern rules contained in the first Law on Protection of Competition (Official gazette of the RS, No 79/2005) and charged an independent and autonomous State body – the Commission for Protection of Competition – with their application and enforcement. Basic provisions of the 2005 Law on Protection of Competition were modelled after EU Competition law. A new Law on the Protection of Competition (Official gazette of the RS, No 51/2009 and 95/2013), that came into force on 1 November 2009, as well as its 2013 amendments, remained on the same course, while introducing mostly procedural changes. One of the differences compared to the EU Competition law, are that in Serbia, with regards to exemptions of restrictive agreements, undertakings in certain cases still do rely on the prior approval by the competition authority, instead of self-assessment.

Both Prva and B92 are members of the Antenna Group, an international media and entertainment organization operating across Europe, North America and Australia.

The Živković Samardžić team successfully representing Prva and B92 in front of the Serbian competition authority was led by Miloš Stojković, Živković Samardžić Technology, Media and Telecommunications associate.

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