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Orange adds to pressure on Telefónica over Canal+

Telefonica buildingTelefónica’s rivals in the Spanish market are continuing to pile pressure on the country’s competition regulator to impose strict conditions on the telco if it is to go ahead and approve its acquisition of pay TV provider Canal+. 

Orange has reportedly asked the regulator, the CNMC, to guarantee that all rival operators will be able to take a wholesale offer of TV channels at regulated prices. Orange has also asked the regulator to extend the obligations imposed on Telefónica to open its fibre network to rival players.

Orange head of regulatory affairs Julio Gomez told Spanish press that Orange was not against Telefónica buying TV rights in principle but that consumers should not be tied to the operator’s mobile and broadband offerings if they want to view its premium content. Orange has therefore asked the regulator to regulate the wholesale prices that Telefónica’s charges to ensure that they remain lower than the retail price that it charges to subscribers.

Orange’s intervention comes amid reports that Telefónica could abandon its acquisition if it considers the CNMC’s conditions to be too restrictive.

Separately, the EC yesterday rejected a request by the CNMC to review Orange’s own proposed acquisition of Spanish alternative telco Jazztel, arguing that it was better qualified to rule on the case.

Orange originally referred the case to the EC last year, and the Commission opened an in-depth investigation in December.

“The European Commission has decided not to refer the planned acquisition of Jazztel p.l.c. by Orange S.A. to the Spanish competition authority for assessment under Spanish competition law. The Commission concluded that it was better placed to deal with the case with a view to ensuring consistency in the application of the merger control rules in the fixed and mobile telecommunications sectors across the European Economic Area (EEA),” the EC said in a statement yesterday.

The Commission now has until April 30 to rule on the deal.