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Swisscom to appeal sports rights ruling

Swisscom signSwisscom has said it will appeal a fine imposed on it by the Swiss competition regulator for allegedly prohibiting the fair marketing of sports content via pay TV in the country.

The regulator, COMCO, has imposed a fine of CHF71.8 million on Swisscom and Cinetrade/Teleclub for failing to offer rights to national football and ice hockey competitions to rival TV platforms at non-discriminatory terms.

Swisscom and Cinetrade say them comply with the law and that the high levels of investment they have made in sports, which they say were previously neglected in Switzerland, justify the creation of an expanded sports offering via the Swisscom TV platform to protect that investment.

According to Swisscom, thanks to the investment made by the pair, there are now four to six times more Swiss football matches available to watch live on free TV than was previously the case.

The operator said it would study the judgment and would appeal the fine with the Federal Administrative Court and, if necessary, the country’s Supreme Court.

COMCO had previously sought to impose a sanction of CHF143 million on the operator.

Cable association Swisscable and pubcaster SRG originally lost the rights to Swiss Super League football to pay TV outfit Telecable’s owner Cinetrade, in which Swisscom holds a 49% stake, in 2011. The competition regulator initially launched an investigation into potential abuse of Cinetrade’s dominant position in 2013.