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Polish regulator says Liberty Global deal could restrict competition

Polish regulator the UOKiK has ruled that Liberty Global’s long-awaited acquisition of Multimedia Polska could restrict competition in a number of cities across the country.

Following its analysis of the impact of the acquisition on competition, the watchdog ruled that the combination of Liberty Global’s UPC Polska with Multimedia Polska could diminish competition in 15 cites both in pay TV and broadband access.

Marek Niechiał

Marek Niechiał

Regarding TV, the UOKiK said that the relevant market in this case is the local pay TV market and that the availability of digital-terrestrial TV was not relevant. The introduction of DTT services has not resulted in an exodus of cable subscribers, it said. Moreover, it said that competition in the pay TV market had to be considered at a local level, given the ability of different operators to compete was restricted by their network reach.

Regarding mobile, the UOKiK said that the relevant market was fixed interent access at the local level, and that the availability of mobile internet did not provide competition because of variatins in speed, quality and consistency of access and the preferences of consumers.

UOKiK president Marek Niechiał said that the watchdog had raised objections to the acquisition on the basis of its analysis and had given UPC 14 days to answer, which could be extended for a further two weeks if necessary.

Liberty Global, the country’s biggest cable operator, struck a PLN3 billion (€708 million) deal to acquire number three cable player Multimedia Polska last October.