11 Romanian agencies, fined Euro 3.2M by Romanian Competition Council

Business, Creativity, Media

Romanian Competition Council fined 11 Romanian agencies handling media buying for different advertising clients, in the end of an investigation that lasted 2 years. The total amount of the fines reached to RON 14.5M, equivalent with almost Euro 3.2M.

According to a press release published on Romanian authority’s website, the institution decided that the 11 companies which were fined were involved in an agreement aiming to eliminate from the market of their direct competitors.

The common actions, through which competing companies coordinate the commercial conduit, represent an infringe of the competition rules. Still, Competition Council took in consideration companies’ efforts to create a set of principles to insure transparency and professionalism on Romanian media market. We consider that the existance of self-regulation for the profession, adapted to the specific of the market, are welcome if they contribute to creating an equitable environment for all market’s players

Bogdan Chiritoiu,

President Romanian Competition Council

According to the same press release, the authority is cooperating with Romanian Advertising Agencies Association (RAAA) in order to come up with a set of principles which will insure transparency and professionalism on this specialized market so the clients can benefit of the best offer in terms of services quality and price.

The 11 companies and the fines they received are as follows:

  • Brand Programming Network: RON 280.296 (Euro 62.500)
  • B.V. McCann-Erickson: RON 3.21M (Euro 717.719)
  • GroupM Media Operations: RON 230.011 (Euro 51.288 )
  • Initiative Media: RON 2.49M (Euro 557.104)
  • Mediacom Romania: RON 1.32M (Euro 296.280)
  • Mediaedgecia Romania: RON 967.226 (Euro 215.672)
  • Mindshare Media: RON 949.672 (Euro 211.758)
  • Opti Media: RON 599.636 (Euro 133.707)
  • Starcom Mediavest Group: RON 1.84M (Euro 412.479)
  • United Media Services: RON 498.748 (Euro 111.211)
  • Zenith Media Communications: RON 2.14M (Euro 478.560)

In reply to the fines applied to the 11 Romanian media agencies, RAAA issued a press release in which takes act and rejects categorically the decision made by Competition Council.

According to the press release, UAPR reaffirms its position according to which an infringement of the competition law cannot be invoked in this case. All over the world, the economic actors sanctioned by competition law have economical interests and forms of commercial manifestation. The discussions between the media agencies sanctioned by the Competition Council didn’t had any economical interests and no commercial aspects. From reason still unclear, Romanian Competition Council aligned with those who introduced unethical practices on Romanian media market, endorsing with this a re-provable way of doing business.

We categorically reject the conclusions of the investigation made by the Competition Council. We will dispute vehemently the illegal way used by the Council to deprive us from accessing the documentation and from our right to defend ourselves. In the same time, we will use all legal means to signal the errors of professional analysis, judgement and procedure made by Competition Council in this case and make aware of them also other national and international institutions (such are European Commission, the Commercial Section of US Embassy in Bucharest, EACA), who followed this case since the beginning. Unfortunately, today’s decision made by the Competition Council throws an unjust negative light over the ethics and standards of some of the biggest international media groups with operations in Romania

Radu Florescu,

President RAAA

In relation with Competition Council’s investigation, EACA affirmed its support towards the investigated agencies since October 2012 and expressed its conviction their actions are complying with the standards and best practices within the industry.

We followed this case since the beginning and we are convinced that there was no infringe of the competition law. We consider Competition Council’s decision as a punitive measure, unjustified and disproportionate towards some agencies that acted in good faith, outside any commercial interests

Dominic Lyle,

General Manager EACA (European Association of Communications Agencies).

In October 2012, Romanian Competition Council started an investigation among Romanian media agencies, suspected by anti-competition actions. The agencies targeted by the investigation are those who made individually the decision to not take part in non-transparent pitches and which were suspected to not be organized correctly. Following a 2 years long investigation, Competition Council decided to punish those agencies