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Portuguese watchdog opens in-depth investigation into Altice

Portuguese competition regulator the Autoridade da Concorrência (AdC) has opened an in-depth investigation into Altice’s planned acquisition of the country’s leading broadcaster and media group Media Capital.

The AdC said that, based on the evidence gathered so far, there were strong indications that the deal will give rise “significant impediments” to competition in “several markets”, including audiovisual content production and competition between TV channels in the advertising market, as well as the telecom and pay TV markets.

The regulator said that the merger would also likely have a significant negative impact on the creation of new TV content and on the business case for new online TV services.

The AdC had previously opened a consultation, asking for comments from interested parties including telecom and media rivals NOS, Vodafone, Impresa, ARTelecom, Nowo and Cofina, which was extended on request.

The watchdog said that it could prohibit the merger if it considered it likely to “create significant impediments to effective competition”.

Altice’s planned acquisition of Media Capital, which owns producer Plural Entertainment and the TVI channels as well as a number of radio stations, has proved highly controversial in Portugal, with rival players and communications regulator ANACOM calling for the deal to be scrapped.

Altice for its part has engaged in a concerted charm offensive, committing to invest in fibre infrastructure, 5G mobile infrastructure and content investment, as well as undertaking major philanthropic initiatives, as part of an effort to secure approval.