Advanced Television

French competition regulator to probe Canal+

July 7, 2016

By Chris Forrester

French business newspaper Les Echos is reporting that the France’s Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority) will launch a review of the regulations covering Canal Plus, starting on July 20.  The report says that the Authority will deliver its initial thinking in March next year and then issue a formal decision by June 2017.

Investment bank Exane/BNP-Paribas, in note to investors early on July 7, says that the Autorité de la concurrence had already announced that it will launch a review of the French pay-TV market when it rejected the deal with beIN [Sports-Media group] last month.

“As a reminder, in June the CA rejected a deal between Canal and BeIN on the basis that the lack of change in the competitive landscape and the risk of dominance did not justify lifting the current remedy that prevents Canal from acquiring a premium channel – i.e. making a deal with BeIN.

“Indeed, since the TPS deal, Canal is subject to several remedies that are very restrictive and prevent the group from operating in the same way as its European and US peers. For instance Canal is forced to offer StudioCanal VoD and SVoD rights to any interested operator, meaning that if Canal were to make available its original series on Canalplay, it would have to offer it to Netflix as well – reducing greatly Canal’s ability to make Canalplay an attractive customer proposition,” says the bank’s report.

“When the CA rejected the beIN deal, the CA announced that they will make an in-depth review of the industry as it reviews by mid-17 whether to maintain/remove or adapt current remedies applied to Canal. We see a slim chance of a new deal next year. Yet the absence of a deal with beIN creates a fresh risk that a competitor (Numericable-SFR for instance) decides to acquire beIN or rights from beIN. This would lead to increased competition.”

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