EU: Scandi’s dandy for Canal Plus nets

Agreement exempted from competition rules

BRUSSELS — European Union antitrust watchdogs have cleared Norwegian telco Telenor, its satellite TV platform Canal Digital and Canal Plus Nordic to distribute Canal Plus premium pay TV channels in the Nordic region.

EU competition supremo Mario Monti has ruled the deal won’t affect pay TV competition, in particular digital pay TV services, and viewers will benefit from new, cheaper decoders.

The Brussels probe began after Telenor bought the 50% stake it did not already own in satcaster Canal Digital from its partner in the venture, Canal Plus, in 2001. As part of the deal, Telenor gained exclusive rights to distribute Canal Plus Nordic, which offers movie hits and top sports events, as part of Canal Digital.

Rights pacts trimmed

EU officials were worried that Telenor had gained the rights for too long.

The firms have cut the length of the distribution contracts and regulators have come to believe that the deal won’t hurt the Nordic pay TV market, which is also well served by rival paybox MTG/Viasat.

Brussels also believes the deal won’t stop other companies entering the market. As a result, the agreement has been exempted from EU competition rules for five years.

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