Optus chief queries Foxtel, Austar deal

The head of Australia’s second-largest telco says the proposed merger of pay-TV services Austar and Foxtel could raise competition concerns regarding content.

According to Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) needs to look carefully at the proposed deal, announced May 26 .

“Optus is a company that is frequently the spokesperson for the competitive forces in the industry (and) we are particularly concerned that the proposed merger of Foxtel and Austar will create a further barrier to competitively accessing content,” O’Sullivan told delegates at the CeBit conference in Sydney.

He urged the ACCC to use the merger approval process to evaluate creating must-share content provision. “We believe Australia must consider similar models to the OECD leading economies, both for news and entertainment-type content and for sport and applications,” he said.

The proposed deal would see the two leading pay-TV providers in the country combine and create a national offering for pay-TV. Previously, Foxtel and Austar sold their products in separate geographic regions of Australia.

The transaction requires shareholder, ACCC and court approval.

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