* Canal+ says ruling doesn't bring transaction into question
* Canal+ to restart talks with authorities to resolve issues
(Adds Canal+ comment, detail, background)
By Gwénaëlle Barzic
PARIS, Dec 23 France's highest administrative
court overturned the regulatory approval of the sale of
Bollore's Direct 8 TV channel to Vivendi-owned Canal+
, citing a procedural flaw and antitrust grounds.
French regulators will now have until July 1 to reexamine
the transaction and come up with fresh conditions to safeguard
competition, the Council of State said in a statement on Monday.
The sale of Direct 8 to pay-TV operator Canal+ for around
279 million euros ($381 million) in Vivendi shares was validated
by France's competition authority in September 2012, but was
challenged by broadcasters TF1 and M6.
The two rivals 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.
The Council of State said the competition authority had
erred by not bringing together a committee of its members for a
review of commitments presented to resolve issues raised in a
first examination of the dossier.
The administrative court also pointed to issues around the
rebroadcast of French films for free.
Canal+ said on Monday that the latest ruling did not bring
the transaction into question, adding that there would be no
immediate impact on programmes on its D8 and D17 channels.
The group said it planned to start fresh talks with the
relevant authorities as soon as possible to resolve the issues
raised by the Council of State.
The competition authority, TF1 and M6 declined to comment.
($1 = 0.7315 euros)
(Additional reporting by Natalie Huet; Editing by Leigh Thomas
and Louise Heavens)