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Regulator’s conditions may scupper Spanish pay TV move

Spanish competition regulator the CNC has imposed strict conditions on Telecinco and Telefónica’s possible acquisition of a share in Prisa-owned satellite pay TV service Digital Plus. However, authorities have approved the merger of Mediaset-owned Telecinco and free-to-air broadcaster Cuatro.

The move follows Telecinco’s deal with Prisa over both its satellite pay TV interests and stake in free-to-air commercial channel Cuatro. Meanwhile, Telefónica was also set to pay €500 million for a 21% stake in Digital Plus. The regulator has effectively blocked the merger of Telefónica’s IPTV service Movistar Imagenio and Prisa’s Digital Plus, ruling that it would endanger competition in the Spanish pay TV market with a 63% market share.

Telefónica has reportedly made it clear that it will not go ahead with the merger unless the regulator softens its stance. The CNC has mandated that the group’s content must be made available to rival platforms if the acquisition is to go ahead. A withdrawal by the telco could have serious implications for heavily indebted Prisa. Prisa, for its part, has reportedly emphasised that the CNC has not made a formal ruling on either case and that the door remains open for the various players to find a resolution.

The acquisition by Telecinco and Telefónica of a stake in Digital Plus has been strongly opposed by rival commercial TV broadcaster La Sexta.