Argentina – The Secretary of Domestic Trade fines cable companies for market allocation
The Secretary of Domestic Trade, through Resolution No. 219/2010, sanctioned Cablevision S.A. and Multicanal S.A. for market allocation in the city of Santa Fe.
The companies –the two major competitors in the cable-TV market that belong to the same holding since 2006‑ were each held jointly and severally liable for a fine that amounts to AR$ 2.5 million (approximately US$ 633,000).
The Resolution was based on a report issued by the Antitrust Commission, who carried out the investigation. According to the Antitrust Commission, the origin of the anticompetitive behavior was an agreement to split the local market between them when Video Cable Comunicaciones S.A. was merged with Multicanal in 1997, which prevented consumers from choosing their cable-TV service provider at will. The Antitrust Commission understood that this collusive agreement had the potential to affect the general economic interest, a legal requirement for anticompetitive behaviors to be punished pursuant to the Argentine law.
At that time, Multicanal and Cablevision were competitors but since 2006 they have both belonged to the same economic group.
Since the anticompetitive behavior started in 1997, the fine was based on the old antitrust law (No. 22,262) enacted in 1980, which was repealed and superseded by the current antitrust law (No. 25,156) in 1999.
In addition, the companies were required to cease their conduct and to publish -at their own expense- the Secretary’s resolution in one of the newspapers with larger circulation in the city of Santa Fe.