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Competition regulator clears playout merger

The UK Competition Commission has confirmed its clearance, by a majority of Ericsson’s acquisition of Red Bee Media.

The regulator had earlier provisionally accepted that the acquisition would not have an adverse impact on competition in the UK playout market.

Ericsson currently provides playout services to ITV and NBC Universal, whilst Red Bee Media supplies the BBC, Channel 4, UKTV and BT Sport.

ITV and Ericsson have recently agreed a long-term extension to their current playout agreement, conditional on the completion of the merger. The Competition Commission found that, taking into account the significant uncertainty about the state of the market at the end of the extended contract, the chances of ITV’s position being weakened were remote. It also found it likely that the merger would have little adverse effect on the BBC.

The commission found that broadcasters with less complex requirements than the BBC and ITV would continue to have a sufficient choice of alternative providers.