The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has carried out a series of searches in the media sector, including at the offices of publisher DPG Media, De Morgen reports. DPG Media is the parent company of De Morgen, Het Laatste Nieuws, Dag Alles, and Humo.
It is suspected that numerous companies communicated sensitive information about competition in the distribution of newspapers and magazines. This is the first stage of the investigation; the BCA has so far refused to comment.
Belgium's national postal company bpost is undergoing a similar investigation into possible malpractice regarding special concessions for newspaper distribution. As a result, bpost CEO Dirk Tirez temporarily stepped down from his position at the end of last month.
Bpost says that an investigation “uncovered elements that may indicate violations of the company's corporate policies and applicable law.” Several employees are under suspicion.
- 2021 was a profitable year for big media groups, but local press suffered
- Media giants lock horns over RTL takeover plans
N-VA Member of Parliament Michael Freilich welcomed the investigation: “It is good that the Belgian Competition Authority is taking the investigation seriously and has now taken the right steps." The N-VA argues that press distribution receives too many subsidies.
In Belgium, a newspaper costs almost twice as much as in the Netherlands and subsidies are “disrupting the market” and “inviting fraud and conspiracies”, Freilich argues. The Federal Government is set to cut subsidies to the sector in the 2023-2024 budget.