decision concerned an agreement dated 1 January 1991 between Newspaper
Publishing plc and The Irish Times, which was notified to the Authority on 30
September, 1992 by Newspaper Publishing plc, whereby Newspaper Publishing
granted to the Irish Times the right to reproduce certain newspaper articles.
The notification requested a certificate under Section 4 (4) of the CompetitionAct, 1991 or, in the event of a refusal by the Competition Authority to grant a
certificate, a licence under Section 4 (2). The agreement was subsequently
amended by letter of 16 November, 1992.
The Subject of the Notification
original notification concerned The Independent and The Independent on Sunday
News Service Syndication Agreement dated 1 January 1991 between Newspaper
Publishing and the Irish Times. Under the terms of the agreement Newspaper
Publishing granted to The Irish Times the right to reproduce certain articles
published in its own newspapers, namely the Independent and the Independent on
The Parties involved
Publishing is a UK public company engaged in the business of publishing
newspapers for sale. It publishes two newspapers, namely the Independent and
the Independent on Sunday. The bulk of its shares are owned by Independent
Newspapers plc and Mirror Group Newspapers. The Irish Times Newspapers Limited
is a subsidiary of The Irish Times Trust Limited. The Group is involved in the
publication and distribution of newspapers.
The Products and the Market
arrangements involved the grant of an exclusive right by Newspaper Publishing
to the Irish Times to re-produce certain articles published in the Independent
and the Independent on Sunday. The products involved are newspaper articles.
The markets involved are those for newspaper articles and those for daily
newspapers within the State. Newspapers obtain articles from a variety of
sources. Many articles will be produced in-house by their own staff reporters.
In addition newspapers may publish articles written by freelance journalists.
They also subscribe to various national and international newsagency services
which provide material to various different newspapers. In addition newspapers
may reproduce articles from other newspapers under the terms of syndication
agreements such as the one involved in this notification.
are four domestically produced national daily newspaper titles on sale in
Ireland (The Irish Times, Irish Independent, The Cork Examiner and The Star),
two domestically produced evening titles (Evening Herald and The Evening Echo)
and four domestically produced Sunday titles (The Sunday Business Post, The
Sunday Independent, The Sunday Tribune and The Sunday World). In addition
twelve UK national daily newspapers and nine UK Sunday titles are distributed
and sold throughout the State. The Authority stated in its interim report on
the newspaper industry that there were several distinct newspaper markets in
The arrangements relate to the Irish Times a daily newspaper which is
published six days per week. In the case of daily newspapers the Authority
concluded that there was a distinct Irish quality daily newspaper market which
is the market in which the Irish Times competes. While the Independent is also
sold in Ireland, on average its circulation is less than 2,000 per day. It is
a quality broadsheet newspaper but the focus of its coverage is on UK news,
politics, current affairs and sport. Thus it is not a substitute for a quality
Irish newspaper such as the Irish Times whose main focus is on domestic
Table 1: Irish Quality Daily Newspaper Sales in 1994
1 indicates that total Irish quality daily sales of newspapers in 1994 was just
under 330,000. Sales of the Irish Times amounted to 93,372 or just over 28% of
all Irish quality daily newspaper sales. Sales of the Irish Times in the first
six months of 1995 rose to 95,000. The Irish Independent was the largest
selling Irish daily with average daily sales of 144,738 in 1994. According to
the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) total sales for all UK daily
newspapers in Ireland amounted to 141,907 per day in 1994 although the UK
newspapers claim the figure was lower. The Star is a tabloid newspaper and is
not part of the Irish quality daily newspaper market. The Irish Press has not
been published since 26 May, 1995.
of The Cork Examiner Group are largely confined to the Munster region.
notified arrangements are described as a news service syndication agreement.
Under the agreement Newspaper Publishing grants to the Irish Times an exclusive
licence to publish the service, abridgements or abstracts thereof on condition
that all such items are credited to The Independent and The Independent on
Sunday News Service. The service consists of any and all items attributed to
the authors named on an attached schedule published during the currency of the
agreement in The Independent and The Independent on Sunday Newspaper
newspapers. Additional authors may be added by Newspaper Publishing. The
agreement was initially for a period of one year with a six month termination
Submissions by the Parties
Publishing submitted that the arrangements did not prevent, restrict or distort
competition but facilitated the establishment of efficient competitors in the
relevant market. They stated that it was not believed that the reprinting of
articles acted in any decisive way to influence consumer behaviour and that
competition in the newspaper sector was not seriously affected by the parties.
They stated that the number of competitors would not be reduced as a result of
the arrangements. They also pointed out that the arrangements did not prevent
Newspaper Publishing from selling its newspapers within the State. They
submitted that exclusivity was essential because the product , i.e. the
newspaper articles, were subject to copyright. A number of arguments were also
made in support of the request for a licence but these are not considered here.
The agreement was amended by letter of 16 November, 1992, with effect from 1
January, 1993 to run until 31 December, 1995 unless renewed three months
before that date. The Independent on Sunday was removed from the arrangements
and copy from that publication became subject to spot sales rates.
Section 4 (1)
4 (1) of the Competition Act, 1991, prohibits and renders void all agreements
between undertakings which have as their object or effect the prevention,
restriction or distortion of competition in trade in any goods or services in
the State or in any part of the State.
The Undertakings and the Agreement
3(1) of the Competition Act defines an undertaking as ´a person being an
individual, a body corporate or an unincorporated body of persons engaged for
gain in the production, supply or distribution of goods or the provision of a
service.' Newspaper Publishing and the Irish Times are engaged in the
production and supply of goods, in this case newspapers, for gain. The
notified arrangements constitute an agreement between undertakings. The
relevant geographic market is the State.
Applicability of Section 4 (1)
Authority does not believe that Newspaper Publishing and the Irish Times are in
direct competition with one another since in its view Irish and UK quality
newspapers do not constitute a single product market. The Independent has a
very limited circulation in Ireland and its market is confined to those
consumers who are interested in detailed coverage and analysis of UK affairs.
It is in direct competition with other newspapers providing such coverage which
are effectively the other UK quality and mid-market newspapers on sale within
the State. None of these has an average daily circulation of more than around
4,000. Under the arrangements the Irish Times is able to provide its readers,
whose primary interest is in Irish affairs, with some additional coverage of
international events. In the absence of such an arrangement it is unlikely
that it would have the resources to provide such material itself. The
arrangements therefore enhance its ability to compete in the Irish quality
the arrangements involve the provision of the service on an exclusive basis to
the Irish Times, this does not have any impact on competition in the Irish
quality newspaper market. The inclusion of material not available to other
newspapers is an essential feature of competition between newspapers. Other
Irish newspapers are free to enter into similar arrangements with other
newspaper publishers whether in the UK or elsewhere. In addition they can also
obtain substitute material from other sources such as international newsagency
services or from freelance reporters.
Authority believes that the arrangements do not have any effect on the market
for newspaper articles. The Irish Times is not obliged to reproduce any of the
material. It is not prevented from using stories from other sources in
preference to those provided by the service.
of the provisions in the original notified terms and conditions or as later
amended, by letter of 16 November 1992, offend against Section 4(1).
the Authority's opinion Newspaper Publishing plc and The Irish Times are
undertakings within the meaning of Section 3(1) of the Competition Act, and the
notified arrangements constitute an agreement between undertakings. In the
Authority's opinion the arrangements do not have, as their object or effect,
the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the State or
any part of the State.
Competition Authority has issued the following certificate:
Competition Authority certifies that, in its opinion, on the basis of the facts
in its possession, the Independent and the Independent on Sunday News Service
Syndication Agreement of 1 January 1991,
Newspaper Publishing plc and The Irish Times, (notification no. CA/531/92E),
notified on 30 September 1992 under Section 7, and amended by letter of 16
November 1992, does not offend against Section 4(1) of the Competition Act.
the Competition Authority
Competition Authority , Interim Report of the Study of the Newspaper
Industry, Dublin, Stationery Office.