DPA has alerted the BKartA to possible irregularities in a media merger between the German arm of the US agency Associated Press ("AP") and the news service DDP. The merger between AP and DDP took place in December last year and saw the owners of DDP taking over AP's German business. At the time, the transaction was not notified to the BKartA.
DPA believes that the merger between AP's German business and DDP should have been notified to and subject to review by the BKartA at the time. Accordingly, DPA has alerted the BKartA that the merger has been consummated without having obtained the required regulatory approval. DPA has also notified the BKartA that it wishes to be involved in any proceedings to review the merger.
In addition to alerting the BKartA to a possible non-notified transaction, DPA has issued a statement stressing that media pluralism could be affected by the deal.
Due to a recent change in policy, the BKartA no longer accepts late notifications. In the event that a transaction was notifiable and but has been consummated without the BKartA's approval, it can now start proceedings to dissolve the deal. Following its request, DPA could be heard if such proceedings are initiated.
The newly formed DAPD has responded that its deal with AP was not notifiable to the BKartA, stating that DDP had at the time undertaken a rigorous legal assessment which reached the conclusion that such a merger would not have to be notified. Instead, DAPD asserts that DPA is simply trying to take any possible legal steps against its competitor DDP.
DPA's complaint to the BKartA follows a complaint which DDP lodged at the European Commission against Agence France-Presse (AFP), alleging that its competitor is illegally benefiting from government aid.
The BKartA has not commented on DPA's complaint against DDP/AP.
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