July 24, 2014 / 2:20 PM / 5 years ago

Liberty Global offers to sell pay TV channel for Ziggo deal: source

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. cable group Liberty Global has offered to sell its pay TV channel Film1 in an attempt to win EU antitrust approval for its proposed acquisition of Dutch rival Ziggo, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Liberty Global, controlled by billionaire John Malone, also promised not to block either contractually or technically so-called over-the-top TV service providers from accessing its Internet network for four years, the source said.

Over-the-top companies such as Netflix Inc, which deliver programming over the Internet, are gaining in popularity at the expense of live TV viewing.

Rivals and other third parties were told to provide feedback on Liberty Global’s offer by early this week, the person said.

Liberty Global’s proposal came after the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the deal in May, worried that it may reduce competition in the Netherlands and lead to higher consumer prices.

The European Union antitrust watchdog said the combination of Film1 and Ziggo’s HBO pay TV channel would only leave one player in the Dutch market.

Commission spokesman for competition policy Antoine Colombani and Liberty Global spokesman Marcus Smith declined to comment. The Commission is scheduled to decide on the deal by Oct. 17.

Liberty Global’s offer values Ziggo and its debt at around 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion). The U.S. company wants to expand its cable empire in Europe where it makes 90 percent of its revenues.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Strupczewski and Mark Potter

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