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Ex-competition head criticises regulator’s handling of Canal Plus case

Guillaume Cerutti, the former head of competition policy, consumer affairs and fraud control at France’s ministry of economy and finance, has criticised the French competition regulator’s handling of Canal Plus’ alleged failure to abide by the commitments it made at the time of its merger with rival pay TV operator TPS.

In an article published in financial daily La Tribune, Cerutti , who signed the authorization for the merger in 2006, said that the authority’s move to rescind its green light for the merger a full five years after the event raised numerous questions.

Cerutti said that any failure by Canal Plus to respect its undertakings should have been obvious much sooner, raising the question of why the authority hadn’t acted at the time. The move by the regulator to rescind its original authorisation and most likely to place the pay TV operator under surveillance for an extended period, gave the competition authority the role of quasi-permanent oversight of a sector of the economy, which was very far from its original mission. He said that the regulator had moved from the role of arbiter of rules to setting the rules itself.