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Oz watchdog OKs pay TV merger

Foxtel, Austar marriage gets regulator's blessing

SYDNEY — Aussie industry watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cleared the way for the $2 billion merger of payboxes Foxtel and Austar.

The deal is effectively a friendly takeover by Foxtel of its regional partner Austar, but the ACCC was concerned that the deal would limit competition, particularly as better broadband could mean that Austar could compete beyond its regional base.

The watchdog has cleared the deal after agreeing with Foxtel some undertakings, including one that prevents the paybox buying exclusive IPTV rights to some skeins and pics. There are also restrictions on cell-phone content.

The watchdog said: “Taking into account the undertaking which has been offered by Foxtel, the ACCC is satisfied that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.”

Foxtel has 1.63 million subscribers and Austar has 760,000.

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