The Norwegian Competition Authority imposes fines totaling NOK 32 million on four publishers for illegal collusion.
– Publishers Aschehoug, Cappelen Damm, Gyldendal and Schibsted Forlag have violated the competition law. They have cooperated in the form of a collective boycott of the distributor Interpress, and exchanged competitively sensitive information, said substitute Competition Director Mads Magnussen.
The Competition Authority found that the cooperation had the purpose of restricting competition in the mass market for books. This market includes retail outlets for books that are not traditional bookstores, such as kiosks, grocery stores and gas stations.
– The four publishers account for the majority of books supplied to Norwegian consumers. The boycott meant that books were supplied to only one of the two distributors. The only real competitor to Interpress was Bladcentralen, a distributor in which all four publishers were owners, says Head of Department Gjermund Nese.
Aschehoug was fined NOK 9.66 million, Cappelen Damm was fined NOK 9.1 million, Gyldendal was fined NOK 7.88 million, and Vigmostad & Bjørke (owner of former Schibsted Forlag) was fined NOK 4.56 million. The publishers’ parent companies were held jointly and severally liable.
– Coordinated behavior restricting competition is a serious breach of competition rules and the fines imposed on the publishers totaling NOK 32 million underlines this, says Nese.
From evidence to decision
- The Competition Authority secured the evidence on 8 and 9 April 2014 at the offices of the involved publishers.
- After securing the evidence, the Authority carried out a number of interviews and the extensive paper and data material was reviewed, systematized and analyzed.
- Notification of a charge of violation by illegal collusion was sent to the companies on June 28, 2016.
- The publishers filed their respective responses during September 2016.
- The turnover value that was the basis for the calculation of fines in the 2016 notification for Gyldendal and Aschehoug was not correct. Correcting this resulted in an increase in the fines on these two publishers. Notification of this was sent on 27 January 2017.
- The Competition Authority sent the final decision on the imposition of penalties in the case on March 22, 2017.
Substitute Competition Director in the case
The Industry and Fisheries Ministry has appointed Mads Magnussen as substitute Competition Director for Lars Sørgard, as Sørgard recused himself from this case.