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Portuguese watchdog rejects Altice remedies for Media Capital deal

Portugal’s competition watchdog the Autoridade da Concorrência (AdC) has rejected remedies proposed by Altice to secure a green light for its planned acquisition of the country’s leading broadcast and media group, Media Capital.

An AdC spokesman told Reuters that the decision was not definitive and that the door was open to Altice to propose further remedies. However, the regulator has not suggested what those remedies might be. Media Capital is the owner of Portugal’s leading broadcaster TVI as well as production outfit Plural Entertainment and a number of radio stations.

Altice for its part said that the measures it had proposed were “reasonable” and that it was not disposed to suggest new ones.

Altice had previously committed to separating its channel distribution, content, advertising and digital-terrestrial TV activities into separate entities, ensuring that channels were distributed non-exclusively and placing no restrictions on rival TV broadcasters.

However, the AdC has ruled that Altice’s commitments were not specific enough and failed adequately to address the question of potential non-compliance and distortion of the market.

Altice, which owns Portugal’s leading telecom operator, formerly know as PT Telecom but now renamed Altice Portugal, announced the acquisition of Prisa’s 95% stake in Media Capital last year, a move that attracted opposition from rival operators and communications regulator ANACOM, which has called for the deal to be scrapped.

The AdC opened an in-depth investigation into the acquisition in February after judging that it could impede competition in several markets including content production and the TV advertising market, as well as the telecom and pay TV markets.