Investigation into RTE’s discount scheme for television advertising

Outcome of investigation

The Competition Authority (“the Authority”) initiated an investigation into how RTE sells airtime to advertisers following a complaint by TV3.

The Authority had concerns that RTE’s discount scheme (known as “the share deal”) could be in breach of Irish and European competition law. During the investigation, RTÉ proposed changes to its conduct and gave undertakings to the Authority to change the scheme with effect from July 2012. As the undertakings offered by RTÉ addressed the Authority’s concerns, the Authority closed its investigation.

Outline of case

Conditional rebates that are granted by a dominant undertaking in return for significant customer loyalty may amount to an abuse of a dominant position. TV3 complained to the Authority that RTÉ's "share deal" amounted to such a scheme that was in breach of competition law.

Under the share deal scheme, RTE offers discounts to individual advertisers depending on the percentage (or the share) of each advertiser’s total television advertising budget committed to RTE. Generally speaking, the higher the share, the higher the discount.

During the investigation, the Authority formed the view that the share deal could amount to a breach of the Irish and European competition law. RTÉ proposed changes to the share deal and gave undertakings to the Authority to change the scheme with effect from July 2012. As the undertakings offered by RTÉ addressed the Authority’s concerns, the Authority closed its investigation.

To learn more on this case read our Enforcement Decision Note relating to the Decision of the Competition Authority (Case COM/10/02) RTÉ’s conduct in the market for television advertising (pdf) and the Agreement and Undertakings with RTÉ (pdf).

Relevant provision

Section 5 of the Competition Act 2002

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

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