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Parliamentary questions
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5 March 2019
P-000235/2019(ASW)
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-000235/2019

The Commission is aware of the creation, in Hungary, of the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), the concentration of over 400 media outlets and of the fact that the Hungarian Competition Authority and the Hungarian Media Council appear to have been excluded from scrutiny of the operation by government decree which declares the operation to be of ‘national strategic importance in the public interest’.

On the basis of the available information, the creation of KESMA itself, as well as the concentration of the media outlets referred to in the question, fall outside the Commission's jurisdiction under the EU Merger Regulation.

It is not contrary to EC law that national merger regimes allow national authorities to take into account public interest considerations when reviewing mergers. However, where the behaviour or practices of KESMA affect trade between the Member States, EU competition rules may apply, including the rules that prevent companies holding a dominant position from excluding others from the market or discriminating against other market players. On the basis of the information available to it, the Commission cannot assess whether KESMA holds a dominant position in some media markets, and whether its practices could fall under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and/or, possibly, Article 101 TFEU.

Independent journalism is vital to hold governments accountable and to monitor democratic processes. The Commission supports media freedom and pluralism within the scope of its competences through various initiatives, but it is the primary responsibility of Member States to take action to protect media freedom and pluralism in line with the values on which the Union is founded and which are enshrined in the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Commission will continue to monitor the situation.

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