Advanced Television

NOS, Vodafone: Altice takeover of Media Capital ‘anti-competitive’

September 29, 2017

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Portuguese operators NOS and Vodafone Portugal have opposed the planned acquisition by Altice Group of Media Capital.

According to Madalena Sutcliffe, director of regulation of Vodafone Portugal, the operation cannot be approved by national regulators ERC and the Competition Authority “not even with compromises because it creates so many problems of pluralism”.

Sutcliffe pointed out that the acquisition of the Portuguese media group by Altice, through Portuguese unit Meo, implies not only access to the content of TVI, the national TV audience leader, but also to advertising space and, concurrently, access to information of competitors that Altice will be able to use to its own advantage.

Her opinions are shared by the Legal and Regulatory Director of NOS, Filipa Carvalho. In her opinion, the “operation should not be approved”, pointing out that this is the only case of convergence in the world that brings together the largest telecom operator and the largest broadcaster in audience terms.

Sutcliffe also questioned the fact that Altice is offering €440 million for Media Capital, a company worth, according to most market analysts, only €270 million.

In response to the criticism, the head of regulatory and legal affairs of Meo, Sónia Machado, claims that exclusivity of Media Capital’s content is not part of the company’s strategy. She recalled that Altice has proven with sports content that it does not believe in exclusivity, adding that “universal access to content is part of Altice’s strategy”.

As for the criticism of “harnessing the information of competitors”, by accessing advertising campaigns in advance, Machado replied she prefers “not to comment”.

The acquisition of Media Capital by Altice Group was notified to Portugal’s Competition Authority in August and also requires the green light of media regulator ERC, expected by October 10th.

Last week, the National Communications Authority (Anacom), issued a non-binding unfavourable opinion, because it believes the operation could place “significant barriers to effective competition in the electronic communications markets”.

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