No monopoly for Abertis

Iñaki Ferreras

Spain's main TV signal distributor operator Abertis Telecom will not have the monopoly on this field after abandoning plans to buy competitors Axion, mainly operating in the South, and Teledifusión Madrid. While the National Competition Commission (CNC) agreed to allow the purchase, its conditions were too onerous for Abertis.

CNC said that if the purchase was allowed, the TV signal distribution market would depend on only one company, so a free market would not exist. Although the market was liberalized in 2000, Abertis Telecom (owned by big construction company ACS and Catalan bank La Caixa) is 'de facto' the only national operator. Axion is its main competitor despite operating in a more local market.

Among other conditions for the buy-out, the CNC demanded Abertis offer a complete service for the transport and broadcast of the TV signal in Madrid and Andalucía, as well as guaranteeing clients of the purchased operators the right to break the contracts when they considered convenient.

The acquisition of Axión by Abertis Telecom was agreed last year with the signing of an agreement with French group TDF (Axión's main shareholder with 60% of shares). This operation cost €104 million.

But this is not Abertis’ only defeat, as the company was recently fined €22.6 million by the CNC for blocking the market for its competitors in the DTT business. Abertis has appealed this decision to the courts.