On 13 April 2023 the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) was notified of a merger that involved the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (“ORF”) acquiring shares in Radioplayer Österreich GmbH (“RPÖ GmbH”). The AFCA closely cooperated with the Federal Cartel Prosecutor and Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) in examining the merger and possible conditions. Following an in-depth review and a voluntary extension of the examination period (six instead of four weeks) by the applicant, the merger has now been cleared subject to conditions only.
RPÖ GmbH was founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIG Innovations GmbH. The company provides a technical platform for the broadcast of radio programmes via the internet (“Radioplayer Austria”). With increasing digitalisation in all areas of our lives, traditional media are becoming less and less visible on the internet. Radioplayer Austria aims to improve the long-term visibility of domestic radio stations and make it easier for listeners to find them, in the interest of the radio industry.
The AFCA found that Radioplayer currently uses a special technical standard to promote its service of broadcasting radio content on the internet. There are therefore no other comparable providers at present. This means that licensed radio stations must be given as broad access to Radioplayer as possible in order to uphold competition.
The agreed conditions should ensure as far as possible that all radio broadcasters licensed under Austrian law enjoy continued, non-discriminatory and low-threshold access to Radioplayer’s technical platform and services.
The conditions should provide extensive protection for licensed radio broadcasters in terms of non-discriminatory access to Radioplayer. Exclusivity agreements will not be allowed, and a minimum licence fee set as the participation fee will be based on costs. In addition, RPÖ GmbH undertakes to adhere to transparency rules and engage in reporting.
The commitment document can be found here (in German): Commitment Document