AGCOM’s initiative concerning online advertising sector
The Italian Communication Authority (hereinafter, “AGCOM”) has started a procedure to identify the existence of dominant positions in the online advertising sector, which may be followed by the adoption of specific measures to eliminate or to prevent the creation of such positions.

On September 9, 2019, AGCOM published resolution No. 356/19/CONS (hereinafter, “Resolution”) on its website. This aimed to start a procedure to identify the existence of dominant positions (or a position that is in any case harmful to pluralism) in the online advertising sector.

More specifically, Article 43 Para. 2 of Italian Legislative Decree No. 177/2005 (hereinafter, the “Legislative Decree”) establishes that AGCOM has the power to initiate such a procedure, with the aim of verifying the existence of dominant positions (or a position that is in any case harmful to pluralism) on the basis of specific indices that are enlisted in the law. Amongst others, this Article points out  (i) the level of competition within the integrated system of communications, (ii) the barriers to entry, and (iii) the size of the economic efficiency of the undertaking, under scrutiny.

In a case in which AGCOM identifies a dominant position, it can consequently adopt the measures that are provided for in Article 43 Para. 5 of the Legislative Decree, in order to eliminate or prevent the creation of such positions, thus adapting to the changing characteristics of the markets concerned. The measures referred to may either be behavioral or structural (subject to the proportionality principle): they may range from simple cease-and-desist orders to divestment or hold-separate orders.

The procedure will end within 180 days of the date of the publication of the Resolution on AGCOM’s website.

In conclusion, AGCOM’s procedures may also involve public consultations, requests for data or information, interested stakeholders.

The Italian text of the Resolution is available here.

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