Foxtel/Austar concessions to boost merger prospects

Australian pay-TV operators Foxtel and Austar have agreed to make some of their exclusive content available to Internet Service Providers as part of undertakings to win support from the competition regulator for their A$1.9 billion merger, reports The Australian.

It is understood the pair will allow some content to be used by ISPs for IPTV, identified as a “potentially significant alternative delivery mechanism” for pay-TV by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which is deliberating over the proposed merger.

The ISPs have been concerned that the merged company’s 97 per cent share of the pay-TV market could allow it to sideline competitors by signing exclusive content deals.

The concessions come as the ACCC prepares to undertake further market soundings before it is expected to deliver its final decision on the deal later in March. A decision was originally scheduled for late November, but the ACCC delayed its decision at the request of Foxtel to allow it to make further submissions.

The ACCC suggested in July that the planned takeover could hurt competition on three fronts: that it would substantially lessen competition in pay-TV, the market for buying programmes and for the supply of telecommunications products because Foxtel is half owned by Telstra.

 

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