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France: Competition watchdog nixes Canal Plus deal

 |  June 13, 2016

Despite three months of heavy lobbying, Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group’s distribution deal with Al Jazeera’s BeIN Sports was struck down Thursday by France’s anti-trust board, throwing a wrench into the pay-TV provider’s plans to return to profitability.

The board ruled that the $1.7-billion deal would give Canal Plus and BeIN control of 80% of sports broadcasting rights in France. That would harm competition, adversely affect financing of sporting events and threaten Internet service providers, the board said.

The decision represents a major setback to Vivendi, which has touted the five-year agreement with BeIN as one of the key elements of its strategy to turn around Canal Plus’ growing losses by 2018. Vincent Bollore, Vivendi’s chairman, has estimated that the paybox provider’s losses will amount to 400 million euros this year.

Bollore was widely expected to try again for a BeIN deal by submitting another agreement for the anti-trust board to adjudicate in the summer of 2017. But someone close to the case said Canal Plus will neither appeal the decision to the Council of State nor come back to the board with another BeIN deal next year.

Full Content: Variety

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