The Competition Commission has proposed that National Grid Wireless (NGW) dispose of all or part of its transmission business. In its provisional conclusions on the acquisition of the business by Macquarie UK Broadcast Ventures Limited the Commission says that the proposed merger between Macquarie’s Arqiva and NGW could lead to higher prices and lower service quality.
“The merged company will be the only company providing MTS/NA [managed transmission services/network access] for terrestrial TV, and for the majority of radio stations,” said inquiry chairman Diana Guy. “There are no realistic alternatives for TV, and the choices for radio are very limited. It was clear from the evidence we have received that Arqiva and NGW have actively competed in the past and we have therefore provisionally concluded that this merger has led to a substantial lessening of competition in this area.”
The Commission is now looking to discuss possible remedies with both the two companies concerned and other interested parties by December 14 head of the publication of a full report on December 21.
Arqiva and NGW had argued the merger would bring about a number of benefits including a reduction in the cost of digital switchover. In a statement, Arqiva emphasised no final decision had been taken and that it would continue to work constructively with the Commission on the concerns that had been identified.