Arqiva can merge with NGW

British transmission company Macquarie/Arqiva can merge with rival National Grid Wireless, and thereby create a UK monopoly.
The UK Competition Commission (CC) is permitting the proposed merger of Macquarie UK Broadcast Ventures Ltd, which we know as Arqiva, with rival National Grid Wireless “subject to the agreement of a package of measures to protect the interests of their customers”.

The end result of what will be a sole UK transmission company, the CC admits, will be a “substantial lessening” of competition in the supply of broadcasting services for TV and radio broadcasters.

“The merged company will therefore be required to agree a package of measures with the CC, including price reductions for customers on new and existing contracts and the appointment of an adjudicator to resolve dis****s. The CC has decided that the proposed measures will be effective in addressing the adverse effects of the acquisition, whilst preserving the benefits that could arise from the acquisition, including reducing the risks associated with the digital switchover process and passing back cost savings to customers. However, if suitable undertakings cannot be agreed, then the CC will order a substantial divestment of the NGW business acquired under the deal,” said the Commission report.

Broadcasters get some immediate benefits, not least a 17% discount on services for all radio operators; a 3.25% discount to all analogue and low-power digital-terrestrial TV customers; a discount to high power DTT customers worth £44m through to 2020.