Canal Plus/TPS merger authorisation reversed
September 21, 2011
By Colin Mann
France’s Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority) has declared that the Canal Plus Group has not complied with a number of commitments – some deemed essential – made at the acquisition of rival pay-TV platform TPS in 2006.
It has withdrawn the decision to authorise the transaction, obliging the parties to notify the operation again within a month. It also fined the Canal Plus up to €30 million.
To alleviate competition concerns, the authorisation was subject to the implementation of 59 commitments made by Vivendi Universal and Canal Plus, the aim of which was to allow competing pay-TV distributors to access content attractive to compete effectively with the merged operation.
In total, the Competition Authority found 10 breaches of commitments.
In a statement, Canal Plus noted the “highly unusual and disproportionate nature” of the decision in relation to alleged breaches and confirmed that it would take appropriate action.
It claimed it was not possible to challenge a merger that was some five years old and suggested the decision was a way for the Competition to impose new commitments, applicable beyond the end of those foreseen in the authorisation in 2006.
Canal Plus said it welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Competition Authority, and suggested that the conditions of competition prevailing in 2006 were “totally overturned” and the that the decision of the Authority did not take into account the new environment resulting from the increased involvement in the television market of major Internet and telco players.