September 1, 2011 / 2:38 PM / 8 years ago

EU regulator probes French state aid for AFP

BRUSSELS, Sept 1 (Reuters) - EU regulators are investigating whether French news agency AFP is receiving illegal aid from French authorities, after a complaint by German rival DAPD, the European Commission said.

AFP, though a government-chartered public corporation, is officially a commercial business independent of the French government, which is a major customer.

DAPD, the second largest German news agency, complained to the Commission last year.

“(The Commission’s) directorate-general of competition indeed sent a letter to French authorities setting out succinctly (a) very preliminary assessment and requesting information,” Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said in emailed comments.

“(The) services have also sent letters to other member states, asking whether there may be any similar situations.”

The Commission can order EU governments to recover state aid if it is found to breach EU rules.

DAPD news agency was formed in 2010 through the merger of Deutscher Depeschendienst and the German subsidiary of the U.S.-based Associated Press.

AFP competes with Reuters, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), the Associated Press, Dow Jones, Bloomberg and other news agencies. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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