Bollore-Vivendi deal on D8 channel questioned in court - BFM
PARIS Dec 20 (Reuters) - Conditions attached to Bollore's sale of television channel Direct 8 to Vivendi-owned Canal + are not enough to ensure fair competition, a French court investigator concluded on Friday, BFM Business reported.
The sale of Direct 8 to the pay-television operator - for around 279 million euros ($381 million) in Vivendi shares - was validated by French competition regulators in September 2012, but challenged by rivals TF1 and M6.
TF1 and M6 are keen to ensure the enlarged Canal + group, now active in both pay television and free television, does not have an unfair edge when negotiating TV rights with film producers and sports federations.
According to BFM Business, the court investigator for the the Conseil d'Etat - France's highest administrative court - told a hearing on Friday that antitrust conditions attached to the takeover were insufficient, notably regarding ringfences around Canal+ and D8 purchases of movies and TV series.
The high court, which usually follows the recommendations of its investigator, will give its final ruling on Monday, the business radio and TV station reported on its website.
If the court decides to annul the regulatory green light given to the takeover, Canal + would have to submit a new project for the enlarged group and conform to stricter obligations when purchasing TV programmes and movies.
Canal +, TF1 and the French competition watchdog declined to comment. M6 could not be reached for comment. ($1 = 0.7316 euros) (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Natalie Huet; editing by Mark John)
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