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Economics ministry report lends some succour to Canal Plus

A report by France’s economics ministry on remedies to the allegedly anti-competitive impact of Canal Plus’s merger with TPS could offer hope to the pay TV operator that the conditions placed on it by the country’s competition regulator could be annulled, according to local press.

According to newspaper Les Echos, which saw a copy of the document, the report, delivered last month to the regulator, described the requirement that Canal Plus make all its movie channels available to rival distributors as “disproportionate”. This measure was included in the competition regulator’s list of those to be undertaken by Canal Plus as a condition for the re-authorisation of the merger. The report also argues against restricting Canal Plus’s sports programming to satellite, arguing that the launch of Al Jazeera’s channels present a real competitive threat to it, according to Les Echos.

The report describes the separation of Canal Plus’s editorial activities from CanalSat’s distribution business – a measure finally not taken by the competition authority – as “disproportionate”.

The French government has the power to overrule the competition authority in theory, but has never used this until now. The government now has 25 days to decide whether to endorse the economic ministry report.