Tuesday, 14. February 2012
Cologne Regional Court strengthens freedom of press distribution and takes on the wholesalers’ cartel
Bauer Media Group welcomes ruling and affirms its faith in the system
The Bauer Media Group welcomes today’s ruling by the Cologne Regional Court in the case of Bauer Vertriebs KG against the Federal Association of Press Wholesalers. The court took issue with the impermissible cartel of prices and conditions imposed by the association and has forbidden it from negotiating national mark-ups for its members with publishers. The ruling strengthens the freedom of press distribution guaranteed by Article 5 of Germany’s Basic Law and the entire system of press distribution in Germany. It clears the way for bilateral negotiations between publishers and wholesalers, and enables urgently needed reforms. The end of the wholesalers’ central mandate to negotiate means that regional differences with regard to services required and cost burden can be given adequate attention in each wholesaler region.
Court establishes that press distribution system is in no danger
The court’s ruling affirms that the end of the wholesaler association’s ability to negotiate nationwide poses no danger to the German press distribution system. The “system essentials” – retail price maintenance, right of return, freedom of disposal and neutrality remain unaffected by the judgement. Article 20 of the Competition Act (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen; GWB) will continue to ensure neutrality (“free market access”) and equal treatment (“the same conditions for the same services rendered”) among publishers. In this way, the publishers’ bilateral negotiations with a wholesaler will lead to a “standard mark-up” for each area for the same services. This furthermore excludes the granting of one-sided and factually unjustified special advantages.
Bauer affirms its faith in the press distribution system
The Bauer Media Group has always stood behind the system essentials of retail price maintenance, right of return, freedom of disposal and neutrality in German press distribution, which ensures as broad an offer of publications (plurality) as possible at as many points of sale (ubiquity) as possible throughout Germany, and will continue to do so. Now and in the future, the company will continue to organise its press distribution activities according to these principles.
Bauer Media Group
Phone: +49 (0)40 30191080