Let’s hope M&G’s big fine won’t stop the press

Business

Let’s hope M&G’s big fine won’t stop the press

The weekly has been slapped with a fine for ‘price-fixing and the fixing of trading conditions’

Ann Crotty

There’s something encouragingly even-handed about the way the competition authorities work. Just days before their latest pronouncements on the “currency manipulation” case involving eye-watering amounts of money and powerful global banks, the Competitions Commission announced the Mail & Guardian had agreed to pay a fine for anticompetitive behaviour.

The M&G fine – R286,846.39 – is for “price-fixing and the fixing of trading conditions” and relates to an investigation launched by the commission all the way back in 2011. M&G is one of 28 media companies the commission referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution. Who would have thought there were that many media companies left standing in an industry whose lifeblood has been sucked out by global players such as Google and Facebook? Indeed M&G itself came perilously close to toppling not too long ago. Its disappearance from the local media landscape would have been a tragedy; at the very least it contributes to the diversity of voice in the media, which is extremely critical these days.

So far only 13 of the 28 companies have settled. The settlers include MultiChoice, Caxton, SABC, Primedia, Ster-Kinekor and the Independent Media Group. Word is that Tiso Blackstar does not feature on the list of 28, thanks to assistance to the commission from previous management – during the Avusa era...

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