A French regulator has greenlit pay-TV broadcaster Canal+’s acquisition of Bolloré’s free-to-air channels but has imposed a series of conditions on the operator over its merger with TPS in 2006.
The acquisition of 60% of Bolloré, which operates the Direct 8 and Direct Star networks, depends on Vivendi-owned Canal+ following strict terms dictated by the French Competition Authority.
These include Canal+ buying simultaneous pay- and free-TV rights to Hollywood series and movies only from one studio at a time, Direct 8 running mainly French films and a ban on making sporting events exclusive to pay-TV.
Canal+ has accepted the terms and the deal is set to go ahead. However, it is not so keen on injunctions has placed on it following its merger with DTH platform TPS, which made it the main pay-TV player in France.
The regulator previously claimed Canal+ had failed to meet conditions relating to the deal and has now taken action. Significantly, Canal+ has also been told to sell its stake in or reduce the influence of the Orange Cinéma Series channel bouquet, which it co-owns with France Telecom.
Further conditions include limiting multi-year framework agreements to three years; more scrutiny on each content deal Canal+ does and the type of rights involved; and a ban on multi-year deals for French-produced films. Canal+ will also have to make its movie channels available to other distributors.
The pay-TV operator rejected the injunctions and plans to appeal to France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat. Media regulator Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel has yet to greenlight the Bolloré deal.