On 26 February 2015, the French Competition Authority (the FCA) fined Les Indés Radios, an Economic Interest Group (the EIG), €300,000 for not complying with commitments made legally binding in 2006. The FCA also ordered the EIG to pay a penalty of €500 for each day that it does not comply, after a four-month period from the notification of the decision.
On 6 October 2006, the FCA decided to accept commitments and close proceedings brought as a result of a complaint from Canal 9 relating to its difficulty to access the independent radio advertisement market because of the EIG’s discriminatory membership rules. The commitments were intended to ensure transparency, objectivity and predictability of the EIG’s conditions for access and exit.
In particular, Les Indés Radios committed to amend its rules of procedure along with the documents it sent to radio stations seeking membership. The objective was to make the conditions of eligibility and admission/exclusion clearer and more transparent. The EIG also undertook to comply with its commitments in its future documents.
Upon the review of the implementation of the commitments in 2012, the FCA found that the EIG had failed to comply on several grounds:
- Some new internal rules of admission were in fact less transparent and predictable
- The EIG did not systematically carry out an adversarial procedure in cases where a radio station was to be excluded
- In the case of a failure by a radio station to provide certain information, although the EIG had committed to only impose a fine, it actually reserved the right to exclude the radio station
- The EIG made it more difficult for a radio to leave, for example extending the notice period, which went against the commitments’ objectives.