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French competition chief strikes out at criticism on Canal Plus case

French competition regulator chief Bruno Lasserre has attacked former competition chief Guillaume Cerutti’s criticisms of the regulator’s handling of pay TV operator Canal Plus’s alleged failure to abide by conditions set at the time of its merger with TPS.

Cerutti, the former head of competition policy, consumer affairs and fraud control at France’s ministry of economy and finance (DGCCRF), recently criticised the French competition regulator’s handling of the case 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 serious questions.

In an open letter addressed to Cerrutti, Lasserre accused the latter of multiple factual errors, over-hasty judgements and of having consulted Canal Plus’s management before publishing his critique. Lasserre also accused Cerutti’s department of failing to act on complaints made by France Télécom early in 2007 and of only referring the matter to the competition regulator in 2008.

Last year the competition authority controversially moved to rescind its original authorisation for the merger and place the pay TV operator under surveillance for an extended period.