Pay TV operator FOXTEL is free to take over regional rival Austar after receiving the competition watchdog’s approval.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday said it would not oppose the deal after accepting court-enforceable undertakings from FOXTEL. UPDATE – The deal was alo approved in the high Court today (Friday April 13).
The undertakings prevent FOXTEL from buying exclusive internet protocol television (IPTV) rights for a range of TV shows and movies.
FOXTEL also is banned from exclusively buying any movies delivered on a transactional video-on-demand basis.
The pay TV giant also is prevented from buying exclusive mobile rights to TV shows and movies where the rights are sought by its competitors to combine with IPTV rights.
‘By reducing content exclusivity, the undertakings will lower barriers to entry and promote new and effective competition in metropolitan and regional telecommunications and subscription television markets,’ ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
‘Taking into account the undertaking which has been offered by FOXTEL, the ACCC is satisfied that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.’
The court-enforceable undertakings were for eight years, the ACCC said.
There are 62 channels FOXTEL is prohibited from acquiring exclusive IPTV rights for or renewing exclusive IPTV arrangements.
These include National Geographic, Discovery Channel, ESPN, Nickelodeon and a number of movie channels.
The undertakings do not preclude FOXTEL from buying up exclusive rights to individual sports.
The ACCC said that to the extent FOXTEL, and its shareholders’ ownership of exclusive sports rights may raise competition concerns, these concerns existed independently of the proposed acquisition.
‘The proposed undertaking has been offered by FOXTEL to address the harm to competition which is likely to arise as a result of the proposed acquisition,’ Mr Sims said.
‘However, it is not intended to resolve competition or structural issues that may already exist in the relevant markets and are unrelated to the proposed acquisition.’
FOXTEL is half-owned by Telstra Corporation, while James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation each hold a 25 per cent stake.
Source: Sky News