Extracts from the press conference by Joaquín Almunia on legally binding commitments from Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple for sale of e-books accepted by the EC
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 13/12/2012 First transmission: 13/12/2012
On 13 December 2012, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, gave a press conference on the Commission's decision regarding the commitments from Apple and four publishing groups for sale of e-books, at the European Commission in Brussels.
The Commission's decision is based on Article 9 of the EU's Antitrust Regulation (Regulation 1/2003). It makes the commitments offered by Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple, revised in light of the market test results, legally binding and ends the Commission's proceedings against these companies. It does not conclude on whether EU antitrust rules have been infringed but legally binds the companies concerned to respect the commitments they have offered. If a company were to break commitments made binding on them, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover, without having to find an infringement of the antitrust rules.
A non-confidential version of the decision will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number 39847.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition to the press conference on the sale of e-books, held at the European Commission in Brussels
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The European Commission has just accepted the commitments offered by Apple and four top international publishing groups in relation to suspected infringements on the market for e-books in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission's decision puts an end to a suspected concerted practice aimed at raising retail prices for e-books in the EEA. This market is nascent in Europe and extremely dynamic so that quick and decisive action was called for.
The publishers concerned are Hachette Livre, part of France’s Lagardère Group; Harper Collins, owned owned by News Corporation of the US; Simon & Schuster of the CBS Group still of the US; and Macmillan, which belongs to the German publishing group Georg von Holtzbrinck.
||Cutaway of the audience
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): Apple and the four publishers seemingly shared the goal of limiting retail-price competition. To achieve this goal, they agreed in January 2010 to jointly switch the sale of e-books from a wholesale model, where the retailer is free to set the price, to an agency model where the retail price of e-books is determined by the publishers themselves. This switch was done according to the same key terms and on a global basis. Our concerns focussed on this joint switch to the agency model on the same key pricing terms. In particular the agency contracts with Apple included what can be called a "most-favoured customer" clause for retail prices.
||Cutaway of the audience
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): Accepting these commitments means removing immediately the results of the collusion and restoring normal competitive conditions. This route is the quickest way to bring competition back to this market, to the benefit of all consumers who buy e-books in Europe.
||Joaquín Almunia leaving the press conference