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Canal Plus: competition authority acting unconstitutionally

Canal Plus has called into question the constitutional validity of the French competition authority’s powers in its re-examination of the pay TV operator’s merger with TPS in 2006.

Vincent Daumas, the rapporteur for France’s Conseil d’Etat has recommended that the question raised by Canal Plus should be considered by the country’s constitutional council. The Conseil d’Etat now has a few weeks to decide whether to accept his recommendation.

Canal Plus is contending that the part of the competition authority’s existing powers are unconstitutional and should be withdrawn. In particular it argues that the body that decides to withdraw approval for a merger such as that between the two pay TV services, on the grounds that they have failed to meet commitments given, should not be the same body that decides on sanctions to be applied. It has also argued that the authority had no right to revisit an approval awarded several years previously, as was the case with the Canal Plus-TPS merger.