Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 25-07-2011

Foxtel has hinted that it will take legal action if Australia's competition watchdog blocks its bid to buy out rival pay TV operator Austar.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Friday that as Foxtel and Austar are the only significant providers of pay TV services in Australia, the proposed merger “would therefore effectively create a near monopoly subscription television provider across Australia.”

Foxtel's CEO Kim Williams told the Australian newspaper that the ACCC's paper was short on fact and full of "bald assertions". He said: "What we have in the commission's statement of issue is a recital of opinions which do not have recourse to any kind of evidence. Parts of the commission are entitled to have their own personal opinions, but fortunately our legal system doesn't operate that way.

"Foxtel remains confident that the proposed transaction does not substantially lessen competition in any market and Foxtel will respond to the ACCC as part of its ongoing process.

"The retail market is highly competitive. Foxtel faces vigorous competition from the reinvigorated commercial and national broadcasters and their digital multi-channels, new IPTV and online competitors such as streaming services over broadband networks (such as Fetch TV), ISPs that provide content themselves together with online movie rental and download services, and DVD rental and sales.

"Competition in this market will only further increase in the future with developments in technology and the rollout of the NBN."