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Full reference: Frison-Roche, M.-A., Freedom&Media: when Italian Media Regulation's real "goal" is not Pluralism Protection, Freedom of Establishment prevails (CJEU, 3 Sept.2020,Vivendi), Newsletter MAFR - Law, Regulation, Compliance, 9th of September 2020
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Summary of the news
The media sector is organized on an equilibrium between the principle of competition and other concerns like information pluralism. Generally, competition Law by making market accessible to many competitors ensures information pluralism. But, this is not the case if an operator get an excessive market power, running risk not only for competition but also for information pluralism. It is the reason why the Italian legal system forbids the constitution of an operator gathering more than 40% of the total income generated by the media sector or more than 10% of the total income generated by the Italian communication sector.
In 2016, Vivendi, a French media group, got more than 28% of the Mediaset Group's actions and around 30% of its voting right. The Italian communication regulation authority sized by Mediaset demands in 2017 to Vivendi to ends its participations in the group Mediaset. Vivendi contested this decision before the regional administrative court which referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union in order to know if freedom of establishment can legitimately be discarded in favor of information pluralism in this concrete case. The Court of Justice answered, in a decision of 3rd of September 2020, that the restriction of the freedom of establishment can in principle be justified by a general interest objective such as information pluralism protection but that in this concrete case, this is not justified because the fact that a firm is committed in the transmission of contents does not necessarily give it the power to control the production of such contents.
We can learn three lessons form this case: