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Cartel query sent to Country Life publisher over OTM link

Time Inc, the owner and publisher of Country Life, has received a query from the founder of the Independent Network of Estate Agents over the magazine’s link with the OnTheMarket portal.

INEA's Trevor Mealham has had a telephone conversation with the head of Time Inc’s UK division and has emailed two senior executives at the company, seeking clarification of the link. 

Mealham draws a possible parallel between the use of OTM as the search facility on the Country Life website - announced over the weekend - and the case of Three Counties Estate Agents Ltd and publisher Trinity Mirror (Southern).


The Competition and Markets Authority earlier this year decided that the three agents in TCEA Ltd - Waterfords (Estate Agents) Limited, Castles Property Services Ltd and Hamptons International - colluded collude, cartel-style, to prevent the advertising of agents' fees in the Surrey and Hants Star Courier for up to nine years.

The CMA imposed fines totalling £775,000.

Mealham says that in relation to the magazine-portal tie-in, while estate agencies not in Agents’ Mutual - the parent body of OTM - will still be able to advertise in the Country Life printed publication, only those agencies on the OTM portal will have their properties made available through the Country Life website. 

“Please, look into the matter carefully. I have been a main contributor to many of the government’s property [and] estate agency consultations” warns Mealham in his email to Time Inc. 

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