Strident Publishing has asked the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate whether Creative Scotland has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour in Scotland’s publishing market.
Creative Scotland has injected £0.41m into a single publishing company, funding it annually* since 2006 and underwriting £0.31m of losses.
In doing so, Strident contends that Creative Scotland has:
- enabled the company to operate far beyond normal commercial constraints;
- acted anti-competitively as an ‘economic undertaking’ in breach of the Competition Act 1998; and
- acted contrary to the Office of Fair Trading’s advice to public bodies regarding the impact of funding decisions on competition.
Strident’s publisher Keith Charters said, “Creative Scotland’s actions have materially damaged Scotland’s publishing market. It has restricted choice for authors and consumers by acting as the deepest-pocketed competitor.
“Commercial publishers expect to compete with each other. They do not expect to compete with the main arts funder operating through a company whose losses it will underwrite no matter their scale.
“Not for the first time, Creative Scotland’s senior leadership and board** have serious questions to answer about governance.”
(* The company received two years’ funding (£85k) in one year as part of a short-lived Creative Scotland approach and so did not receive funding the following year.
**One of Creative Scotland’s board members is a Panel Member of the Competition & Markets Authority.)