Orange to revise its pay-TV model?

Charged by the French government with investigating the question of internet exclusivities, the competition authority said yesterday that content exclusivities offered by internet access providers must remain an “exceptional solution, limited in time and action”.

Adopted mostly by telco Orange to sell its premium IPTV sport and movie offers Orange Sport and Orange Cinéma Séries via a triple play subscription, this model leans on a double exclusivity: distribution exclusivity for the rights to the content, and an access exclusivity to ensure subscribers take the whole triple play offer. The overall operation is very profitable to the operator.

The authority said that if the opening of the pay-TV market is “worth seeking”, competition must not be curbed. “Double exclusivity is restrictive fot the consumer who can’t access all contents or must pay more to get them,” the authority added.

Instead, operators should have the timeframe for their exclusive rights reduced to just one or two years, before being forced to offer content more widely.

While the competition authority’s opinion is not binding, it does carry weight. It is now up to France’s government to decide whether to act on the issue.

France Téléom, Orange’s owner, said that the authority’s statement would “lead us to adapt the economic model of our content services.”

The competition authority’s opinion backs up a court ruling made in February that Orange should open up access to its sport and movie channels to rival operators. France Télécom won an appeal of that ruling, but rival operators are themselves planning to appeal to France’s highest court.