European Commission Concerns Put Canal Plus Orange Cinema Series Deal in Doubt

Canal Plus made a deal with Orange in July to buy a 34 percent share in the France Telecom subsidiary.

 

PARIS - Canal Plus may not be doing any holiday shopping this year with the French pay TV group’s planned acquisition of a 34 percent stake in rival Orange Cinema Series in question.

Canal Plus made a deal with rival group Orange in July to buy a 34 percent share in the France Telecom subsidiary. However, the European Commission recently expressed concerns over the deal, claiming it would limit Orange’s competitiveness on the program acquisitions market. Authorities suspect a specific clause in the contract that doesn’t allow Orange Cinema Series to spend more than €70 million ($93.8 million) in broadcast rights, which would give Canal Plus an advantage over the market. Canal Plus maintains that its small stake doesn’t give it “co-control” over the network and thus doesn’t merit strict regulations from the EC.

If the competition authorities do impose harsh conditions on Canal Plus, the company has a clause allowing it to pull out of the deal, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

In September, France’s antitrust watchdog the Autorite de la Concurrence withdrew its approval of pay TV giant Canal Plus’ 2006 merger with then-rival group TPS on Wednesday and fined Canal Plus €30 million ($40.2 million) for not following through on its commitments in that deal.

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