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Arqiva cleared by Ofcom review

Ofcom’s comprehensive review into the UK transmission market has found that Arqiva does not have “significant market power”, and Ofcom is to remove the regulatory conditions that have been in place since 2005.

Back then the transmission company we now know as Arqiva started a merger and acquisition policy which brought together Crown Castle UK and National Telecommunications (NTL). This process continued in 2007 when NTL acquired National Grid Wireless (itself a merger between Crown Castle and Gridcom) and formed Arqiva with some deep-pocketed finance from Macquarie Bank’s investment funds.

Ofcom, during this period, appointed its own Adjudicator to act as a watchdog over Arqiva’s control over the market.

Ofcom commented: “We have now carried out a review of the broadcasting transmission services market, following our commitment to do so in our Annual Plan 2015/16. We conclude that there are two markets for broadcasting transmission services: the provision of network access for digital terrestrial television broadcasters and the provision of network access for analogue and digital radio broadcasters.”

The Ofcom review says that high barriers to entry mean that the current position for Arqiva is likely to remain. In its conclusion, Ofcom says: “Our engagement with stakeholders in the course of this review has highlighted a number of perceived concerns, given Arqiva’s position in the relevant markets. We consider that the regulatory regime established by the merger undertakings is sufficiently flexible to respond to changes in the market and customer requirements, and as such is capable of addressing these concerns. In particular, it is designed to: provide certainty and transparency for customers; encourage commercial negotiation of contracts; and resolve disputes in a flexible and timely manner where commercial negotiation fails.”

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