On 22 January 2019, the Belgian Competition Authority (the "BCA") imposed interim measures on Norkring Belgium NV ("Norkring") to safeguard the continuity of the public broadcasting services provided by VRT, the Flemish public media channel.
This decision follows a complaint lodged by VRT. Currently, VRT broadcasts its programmes over a network of transmission towers on the basis of a contract which is set to terminate on 5 March 2019. VRT awarded the broadcasting of its programmes relying on a network of transmission towers, including four transmission towers of Norkring, to BV Broadcast Technology & Development ("Broadcast Partners") following a public tender process. However, Norkring did not reach an agreement with Broadcast Partners for the use of its transmission towers.
Consequently, VRT lodged a complaint in which it held Norkring responsible for not having reached an agreement with Broadcast Partners in order to preserve the continuity of the broadcasting of its programmes.
In the meantime, Broadcast Partners had filed for an injunction with the Enterprise Court of Antwerp in order to reach an agreement with Norkring allowing it to use its transmission towers.
The Competition College of the BCA decided that VRT had not demonstrated that the conditions to impose interim measures were met. Still, the Competition College went on to observe that the general economic interest resulting from the continuity of the public service provided by VRT would be sufficient to conclude a prima facie violation of competition law if the public service was not secured after 5 March 2019.
The resulting interim measures imposed by the BCA seek to ensure a continuation of the current service over the transmission towers of Norkring after 5 March 2019 in line with the conditions put forward in the unsuccessful bid which Norkring had submitted in response to the public tender organised by VRT. The interim measures apply until an agreement between Norkring and Broadcast Partners is reached or until the Enterprise Court of Antwerp has given judgment on the injunctive relief.
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