PM International sues TV2 for NOK 50 mn

Pill vitamin PM InternationalVitamin Pills is a mega business. Photo: Trey Gibson / Unsplash

PM International demands NOK 50 million from TV2

The Health Food Company, PM International, sues Norwegian TV2 for NOK 50 million after they called it a pyramid type of company, selling sugar powder. Next week they meet in court.

The Program Host, Marte Spurkland, together with Journalist, Anders Myhren, mentioned the German company’s products in the FitLine series in the TV2 program «The Health Check» in November 2017. Under the heading «Earns millions on sugar powder», the program describes both what the products contain, and how they are traded.

PM International is referred to as a pyramid type of company, that makes big bucks selling a vitamin powder. The powder is mainly made up of sugar. In an article on the web, Spurkland informs about a very peculiar contract TV2 were required to sign prior to submitting questions to the management of the company.

“Both the statement of a pyramid in different contexts and the claim that the powder the plaintiffs sell is «sugar powder», are factual statements. The claims are incorrect and libellous,” writes Lawyer, Per Danielsen, in his final submission to the Oslo District Court.

It is set aside four days for the treatment of the case in Oslo District Court. It is announced a total of 13 witnesses besides the explanations by the plaintiffs and defendant.

PM International trades for billions

After the broadcast on TV2 in November 2017, both the Norwegian company, Professional Marketing International Norge AS and the parent company, PM International AG, registered in Luxembourg, tried to get TV2 to pull the cases that were published on the web. The Oslo town bailiff, on its part, did not support the demands, and the two articles are still publicly available on the website of TV2.

The same goes for the program itself (on TV2 Sumo). The town bailiff believes that there is nothing wrong with TV2’s coverage of the issues and rejected the requirement for a temporary injunction. The plaintiffs must also pay the case costs of TV2.

Demand for NOK 50 million

Danielsen has previously stated that the demand from TV2 will be in the order of NOK 50 million, based on an estimated net loss for 2018.

The Norwegian subsidiary experienced almost explosive growth in 2017. From a turnover of NOK 66 million in 2016, sales increased to NOK 161 million the following year. Profit before tax ended at NOK 47 million. The corresponding figures for 2018 are not yet available.

According to its own website, PM International has a turnover of USD 833 million (NOK 7 billion) globally.

Dismissed by the PFU

PM International also complained about the matter to the Norwegian Professional Committee of the Press (PFU), who on October 31st, 2018 concluded that TV2 had not violated good press practice in its mentioning of the case.

“TV2 was in its right to direct the searchlight on the plaintiffs business,” writes PFU. They justify their conclusion by stating that consumer journalism is an important editorial area.

Covering description

Attorney Jon Wessel-Aas represents TV2 and the journalists. In his final submission to Oslo District Court, he writes: “The use of the word «Pyramid», as it is used in the features, cannot be interpreted as an accusation of something illegal or as a defamatory statement. Rather, it is a comprehensive and precise description of how PM International has set up its sales and marketing network.”

He further responds to the allegations of the use of the word «sugar powder» as it is regarding three of the mentioned products in the case. He points out that the feature does not conceal that there is a content of vitamins and minerals in the goods, but that they contain sugar as well.

“As the products contain 45, 81, and 49 per cent sugar, respectively – it is correct to call the relevant products as being sugar powder.”
He concludes by adding that he believes that it is neither wrong nor defamatory to do so.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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