France launches investigation into TPS/Canalsat merger

The French competition authority (Autorité de la Concurrence) has opened an in-depth investigation into the 2006 merger of satellite TV operators TPS and CanalSatellite.

The authority withdrew its blessing for the merger at the end of last year after a preliminary investigation showed that Canal Plus did not respect all of the conditions that had been imposed.

“As part of the review the case, and following an initial consultation of market participants, the Authority considers that the transaction raises serious doubts of barriers to competition and requires opening of a detailed examination phase,” the authority said.

The authority also noted that since the acquisition of TPS, the market has changed considerably. On the one hand, the market for the acquisition of broadcast rights, on the other hand the market of selling premium channels to subscribers.

The authority has provided advice to consult the media authority (CSA) and the regulator for electronic communications and post (ARCEP), as well as other market players. The regulations provide that the review takes place normally within 65 working days after the opening of phase two.

In another pending case, the authority also announced this morning that Canal + has forwarded proposals for the acquisition of two free-to-air channels, Direct 8 Direct and Star. The authority will decide within 15 days whether further examination is necessary.

Finally, there is also the issue of the end of the TPS Star channel, which Canal+ intend to close down. The authority wants to know how the current subscribers to this channel will be compensated.