More or less every few months or so, we have to either turn off the screens and make a black protest in connection with the initiative to introduce a tax on the Polish media, or go out into the streets – said Bartosz Hojka, the president of Agora, about the actions of regulators towards the media in Poland on TVN24 BiS. On Monday, the Court of Appeal in Warsaw upheld the verdict of the court of first instance expressing unconditional consent to the transaction of acquisition of Eurozet by Agora. Previously, it was blocked by state regulators.
On TVN24 BiS, the president of Agora spoke, among other things, about the company’s dispute with state regulators. He pointed out that National Broadcasting Council decided to initiate proceedings against TOK FM and Radio Zet under “the same paragraph (…) from which the allegations related to the TVN24 report ‘The Force of Lie’ were made”.
– It seems to me that this shows a certain attitude, probably not of the entire National Broadcasting Council, but of the chairman himself. There are members who dissociate themselves from it. So it seems that these are his individual decisions, individual actions. They clearly fit into the context of the situation of the media in Poland. They are doing well thanks to the great determination of broadcasters, publishers and, above all, excellent journalists. There is no doubt, however, that they have been under enormous pressure for many years.
He pointed out that “in terms of the Press Freedom Index, we fell from 18th to 66th place. We are behind Mauritius and Papua New Guinea.” – More or less every few months, we have to either turn off the screens and make a black protest in connection with the initiative to introduce a tax on Polish media, or go out to the streets to defend ourselves against Lex TVN and an attempt to take away the license of one of the largest independent televisions in Poland.
– First, we waited a long time for the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to complete the procedures regarding our application. It was one of the longest proceedings in the history of competition protection on the Polish market. The president then issued a ban on the concentration. It was the first such ban issued in 10 years, he said.
He said yesterday’s verdict was “very important.” – Not only for us, (…) but I think for the whole market, especially for the media market. It shows that entrepreneurs can effectively oppose the unlawful actions of regulators – he emphasized.
He said that the company “will try to take advantage of the potential resulting from this merger”. “This is our biggest investment ever,” he said.
Agora may take over Eurozet. Court judgment
Agora may take over Eurozet, which includes, among others, Radio ZET. On Monday, the Court of Appeal in Warsaw upheld the judgment of the court of first instance expressing unconditional consent to the transaction. The judgment is final. On Monday, Agora signed an agreement on the purchase of shares in Eurozet. the office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) announced that it would consider filing a cassation appeal against the judgment with the Supreme Court.
The application for approval for the transaction was submitted to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) in October 2019. In November 2019, the President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny referred the case to the so-called second stage, which meant that it was necessary to conduct market research. In November 2020, the President of UOKiK raised objections to this concentration, and then, at the beginning of 2021, prohibited the acquisition of Eurozet by Agora.
Agora appealed against the decision to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection. In May 2022, the court issued a judgment in which it agreed to the concentration by changing the decision of the President of UOKiK. “The verbal reasons for the decision presented today show that the Court, taking into account the arguments contained in Agora’s appeal, concluded that the transaction will not lead to a significant restriction of competition on the market,” Agora said in a press release.
At that time, the President of UOKiK appealed against the judgment of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection regarding the Agora-Eurozet concentration.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) announced on Monday that it would consider filing a cassation complaint with the Supreme Court regarding the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which agreed to Agora taking control of Eurozet.
Main photo source: TVN24