The European Commission has cleared Liberty Global’s acquisition of Dutch cable-TV operator Ziggo, subject to the divestment of one premium TV movie channel and commitments to ensure network access to broadcasters delivering content via Internet. Liberty Global (via its subsidiary UPC) and Ziggo are the two main cable-TV providers in the Netherlands, but they do not compete directly in the market for retail pay-TV as their network footprints do not overlap. The Commissions’ concerns eventually focused on two areas. First, the parties compete in the wholesale market for premium movie channels where they control the two main offerings in the country (Liberty Global’s Film1 and Ziggo’s HBO Nederland). Second, the Commission was concerned that the merger may increase the parties’ bargaining power with respect to broadcasters and hinder the development of “over-the-top” (OTT) Internet-based services. The parties will sell their rights to the Film1 channel and commit to avoid contractual restrictions on OTT services for eight years.
The CRA team advised Liberty Global and Ziggo.