CCP warns key media industry players to refrain from violations

BOL Network and Labbaik (Pvt.) Limited cry foul

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has issued a order warning key players of the media industry, including the Pakistan Broadcaster Association (PBA), Broadcaster Advertisers Council (BAC), and Medialogic (Pvt) Limited, to refrain from indulging in anti-competitive practices.
The order was passed following an inquiry conducted on a complaint filed by BOL Media Network, Labbaik (Pvt.) Limited and BOL Enterprises (Pvt.) Limited against PBA, BAC and Medialogic (Pvt) Limited for prima facie violation of Section 4 of Competition Act, 2010.
As per details, BOL Network had alleged that it had been denied a rating by the above mentioned entities because of three arrangements between Medialogic, BAC, PBA and Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS).
The first agreement, dated July 15, 2018, was executed between Medialogic and PBA, wherein Medialogic was restricted from providing services to any other broadcaster other than PBA. The second agreement, signed in November 2017, was a joint venture (JV) agreement between PBA and PAS to create BAC. According to this agreement, the broadcasters, who were not PBA members, were excluded from being members of BAC. The third agreement, dated January 5, 2018, was executed between BAC and Medialogic, under which BAC committed to endorsing the services provided by Medialogic being the official industry currency. Moreover, the approval of BAC will be necessary in case Medialogic grants rating to any other customer, the letter to CCP states.
After an investigation into the matter, the commission issued show cause notices to BAC, PBA and Medialogic.
However, after hearing the case, a two-member bench of the CCP comprising Bushra Naz Malik and Mujtaba Ahmad Lodhi decided not to impose any penalties on PBA, BAC and Medialogic, keeping in view that the Supreme Court had already resolved the complainants’ main grievances through a consent decree and law regulating the Television Audience Measurement (TAM) data.
The Supreme Court, in its order, held that PEMRA would be the sole regulator for the said market whereas BOL Media Network shall apply for subscription of PEMRA; the rating companies shall follow the regulations and the terms and conditions of the license based on which they have been granted their license.
The CCP gave BOL multiple chances to establish if there were any other grievances apart from the ones resolved through the apex court’s order so that it may adjudicate upon.
Although BOL did not apprise the commission of any other grievances, the CCP has still issued directions to the respondents under Section 31(b) of the Act, warning them against engaging in any such activities in the future, stressing that any future violation may result in strict punitive action.
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