On 16 November 2010, the French Competition Authority (the
'Authority') issued a decision in its investigation on
exclusivity clauses in the Pay TV sector. The case was opened in
2007 following complaints from Group AB and RTL 9 to the former
Competition Council (the 'Council'). These complaints were
eventually withdrawn; however in 2008 the Council received a
further complaint by France Telecom and opened ex officio
France Telecom argues that the clauses granting exclusivity to
the French Pay TV distributor Canal Plus Group ('Canal
Plus') for certain Pay TV channels are unlawful. France Telecom
also denounces the cumulative effect of such clauses: they are
alleged to foreclose the market by preventing competitors, and
notably telecom operators, from accessing channels on a wholesale
level, thus preventing them from marketing Pay TV offers that are
sufficiently attractive to consumers.
In its decision the Authority defines the scope of its
investigation. It will examine three types of exclusivity clauses
implemented by Canal Plus for the distribution of Pay TV
Clauses relating to channels "owned" by Canal Plus,
i.e. the channels produced by Canal Plus itself;
Clauses relating to "related channels", i.e. channels
produced by firms which were at the time of the complaint minority
shareholders of Canal Plus France;
Clauses in contracts between Canal Plus and independent
channels producers which grant exclusivity to Canal Plus for about
thirty TV channels.
The Authority will examine whether the combination of these
exclusivity provisions creates a foreclosure effect on the market.
Although the Authority confirms the existence of a dominant
position of Canal Plus on the upstream market for Pay TV linear
services, it considers that insufficient evidence has been gathered
so far and therefore requests that additional investigation is
undertaken before it issues a decision on the merits
To view Community Week, Issue 498; 19th November 2010
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