Canal+ seeks to address antitrust concerns over Direct 8 deal

PARIS Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:25am EST

PARIS Jan 21 (Reuters) - Vivendi-owned French pay-TV channel Canal+ has proposed further concessions to regulators over its 2012 takeover of Bollore's Direct 8 TV channel after approval of the deal was overturned on procedural and antitrust grounds.

Canal+ has pledged not to buy the rights for pay-TV and free broadcasts of more than 20 recent French films per year, according to a statement from competition regulators, in an effort to resolve issues raised last month by France's highest administrative court.

It also offered other concessions on re-broadcasting French content on its two free-to-air channels.

The Competition Authority plans to consult France's broadcast and telecom regulators, as well as rivals to Canal+, between now and Feb. 3 as part of a review of whether the new proposals will safeguard competition.

The sale of Direct 8 to Canal+ for around 279 million euros ($378 million) in Vivendi shares was validated by France's competition authority in September 2012, but was challenged by broadcasters TF1 and M6.

The two competitors were keen to ensure the enlarged Canal+ group, now active in both pay and free television, did not have an unfair advantage when negotiating TV rights with film producers and sports federations.

A spokesman for Canal+ declined to comment. ($1 = 0.7373 euros) (Reporting by James Regan and Leila Abboud; Editing by Mark Potter)

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