Spain bars Tele5 and Telefonica from Digital Plus

The Spanish competition watchdog (CNC) has approved the merger between the commercial TV channels Tele 5, controlled by Mediaset and Prisa-owned Cuatro, but has blocked the entry of Tele5 and Telefonica into the Prisa-controlled pay DTH platform Digital Plus.

The decision to limit the TV deal is on the grounds that Digital Plus, with Tele 5 acquiring a 22 per cent stake in the platform and Telefonica holding a 21 per cent, would endanger free competition in the pay-TV market. Together Digital Plus and Telefonica through its IPTV service Movistar Imagenio would control 63 per cent of all pay-TV subscribers against ONO’s 24 per cent.

The restriction may ruin the whole TV deal between Tele 5 and Prisa, although it is believed that the merger between the commercial TV channels will be implemented regardless of the pay TV operation. The CNC’s decision is another setback for Prisa which has lost around E400 million on the failing pay-TV operation.

Telecinco-Prisa TV deal triggered fierce criticism from the rival TV channel La Sexta which urged the competition authorities to impose tough limits on the operation. Also, the Federation of Spanish TV Producers objected to the consolidation move.