13 May 2024

Major Win in Premier League BiH Broadcasting Rights Antitrust Case for Arena Channels Group

Gecić Law is pleased to announce yet another legal victory, in collaboration with Marić & Co Law Firm, in a critical antitrust case in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina has fully rejected the claim submitted by Telemach BH d.o.o. (“Telemach”) which alleged that Telekomunikacije Republike Srpske a.d. (“Mtel”), BH Telecom a.d. (“BH Telecom”), and Arena Channels Group d.o.o. (“ACG”) had violated competition law in broadcasting of the Bosnian national football league – the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Premier League BiH”).  On April 26, 2024, the Competition Council ruled that Mtel, ACG, and BH Telecom had not entered into any restrictive agreements and that ACG had not abused its dominant position.

The Premier League BiH Case

The dispute began in March 2021 when Telemach filed an antitrust complaint with the Competition Council.  Telemach claimed that Mtel and ACG, together with BH Telecom, had partially transferred broadcasting rights of the Premier League BiH.  They allegedly did so in a non-transparent deal lacking a public tender, thereby facilitating illegal cooperation among competitors.

In December 2021, the Competition Council dismissed these claims as unfounded.  However, in December 2023, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina returned the case to the Competition Council.  The Court asked for a retrial on procedural grounds.  New submissions by the parties to the proceedings followed.  The Competition Council yet again concluded that all of Telemach’s claims were baseless.

Upon examination of the new submissions, the Competition Council found that Mtel has not concluded an agreement with BH Telecom.  Therefore, it could not be a party to a potentially restrictive agreement.  Furthermore, the Competition Council determined that the agreement between ACG and BH Telecom was not restrictive.  The Council found that the claim was baseless as Telemach’s users had access to the relevant football content.  Finally, the Competition Council established that ACG had not engaged in any abusive practices arising from its dominant position, because it distributed the broadcasting rights to all interested parties on equal terms and without discrimination.  Therefore, the Competition Council stood by its previous decision rendered two years ago.

This case highlights our consistent commitment to resolving complex competition law issues.  This victory was achieved in cooperation with esteemed local counsel from the Marić & Co Law Firm, led by partner Ezmana Turković.  The Gecić team was led by founding partner Bogdan Gecić and senior associate Vuk Leković, with the assistance of associate Milica Novaković and associate Dušan Jablan.