CNC investigates Mediaset España's purchase of Cuatro

Iñaki Ferreras ©RapidTVNews | 08-06-2012

Spain’s National Competition Commission (CNC) has started disciplinary proceedings against Mediaset regarding its purchase of Prisa TV’s Cuatro.

The investigation is to do with Telecinco’s Mediaset España breaking some of the commitments that the group had acquired when the merger between Telecinco and Cuatro in October 2010 was approved subject to conditions.

In particular, CNC said that there were indications that Mediaset Spain has developed a "strategy of de facto peg of the sale of advertising channels, which would have been strengthened by the recent introduction of a new marketing model of advertising", which it had promised not to do.

Furthermore, the CNC notes that the group has not fulfilled the obligation of functional separation and has included "prohibited clauses" in certain contracts for the acquisition of audiovisual content, in violation of other commitments.

Also in relation to the contents, the Council of the CNC notes that Mediaset Spain "unreasonably delayed the waiver of rights of first refusal of audiovisual content, and delayed the granting of stock options for adjusting the length of existing contracts (and in some cases, has not offered them)."

After the initiation of disciplinary proceedings, CNC now has a maximum of six months to investigate and resolve the case.

CNC gave the green light to the merger between Telecinco and Cuatro in October 2010, after finding that the commitments submitted by Telecinco on 19 October 2010 solved "the competition concerns identified".

Mediaset Spain has stated with ‘absolute certainty’ that it has not violated its commitments to the National Competition Commission and therefore there has been no detrimental effect to the market. It states that it is so confident on this point that in the event that any sanctions are imposed, it believes they would be overturned by the courts, who ultimately have the final say on the matter.