Swiss court rules against UPC in ice-hockey case

The Swiss Federal Adminstrative Court (Source / (c): FAC)

The Swiss Federal administrative court has confirmed a ruling by the country’s competition watchdog that Liberty Global-owned UPC Switzerland abused its dominant position in broadcasting Swiss ice hockey during the period when it held the rights.

The court confirmed the ruling by competition regulator COMCO that UPC Switzerland, now Sunrise, had occupied a dominant position during the five years from 2017 to 2022 when it held the rights to National League and Swiss League, and had refused to make an offer to rival Swisscom or its Blue Entertainment unit for the retransmission of the matches for nearly three years.

The court ruled that making the matches available was essential for the competitive functioning of the pay TV market. However, it reduced the fine levied by COMCO slightly, from CHF30 million to CHF29.1 million.

The court confirmed COMCO’s ruling that IPC had to make ice hoceky avaialbe to all Swiss TV platforms, either by offering its raw signal to them or by making its own MySports service available at commercially fair terms.

Sunrise has the option of appealing the ruling with the country’s Federal Court.

Sunrise/UPC and Swisscom have a long history of wrangling over sports rights. In 2022 the same court now ruling against UPC confirmed a fine on Swisscom and Blue Entertainment levied by COMCO over the latter’s abuse of its own dominant position in the provision of national football and ice-hockey between 2002-12. At the time Swisscom defended its position by saying it was justified in providing an enhanced, exclusive offering on its own platform to make a return on significant investments in sports content that had previously been neglected.

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