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EC passes Telefónica acquisition to local regulator as Vodafone chief raises objections

António Coimbra

António Coimbra

The European Commission is to leave a decision on the acquisition of Canal+ España by Telefónica to Spanish competition watchdog the CMNC. Meanwhile, the CEO of Vodafone Spain has warned of the risk of Telefónica gaining a dominant position in the pay TV market in the country.

The CNMC’s chairman José María Marín Quemada has confirmed that the regulator will probe the acquisition. The acquisition of 100% control of Canal+ from Prisa and Mediaset will give Telefónica a very strong position in the Spanish TV market, where it also operates its own Movistar TV service.

Vodafone Spain CEO Antonio Coimbra has called on the regulator to be “relentless” in applying conditions to the takeover. Coimbra said that Telefónica and Canal+ together would account for over three in five pay TV customers in Spain and over four fifths of revenues. He said this would give the operator huge bargaining power in securing premium content rights, including sports rights.

Vodafone is Telefónica’s main rival in pay TV and broadband access in Spain following its acquisition of cable operator Ono.