TF1 digital deal faces in-depth probe - watchdog
September 8th, 2009 - 15:35 UTC by Andy Sennitt

France’s competition watchdog said today that a deal by leading private broadcaster TF1 to buy digital television assets from Groupe AB required an “in-depth” probe. The Autorité de La Concurrence said in a statement that it had asked French broadcasting authority CSA to give an opinion on the issue. A decision is expected in early October. The Autorité de la Concurrence will aim to establish “whether the deal is a threat to competition, notably through the creation and building of a dominant position, in light of recent developments in TV advertising markets.”

In June, TF1 said it had clinched a deal to buy digital assets valued at 192 million euros from smaller peer Groupe AB. The deal, in which TF1 will buy all of NT1 and double its stake in TMC to 80 percent, will boost TF1’s position in the fast-growing digital sector and counter a decline in its flagship channel. NT1 and TMC are both free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels.

TF1 had said employee representatives had approved the deal but relevant authorities still needed to give their approval.