Foxtel Austar Merger Deal, ACCC Decision Due This Week

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Foxtel executives will this week learn whether the ACCC has granted them permission to take over Austar in a $1.9 billion merger.Australian Competition & Consumer Commission chief, Rod Sims, is expected to announce the ACCC’s decision on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this year the ACCC released a paper predicting “a substantial lessening of competition” for pay-TV services, TV content and several telecommunications markets if the deal went ahead.

Currently Foxtel is facing new competition from 50% shareholder Telstra as well as Google, and Apple who are all looking to launch new pay movie services in 2012.

The Australian newspaper said the ACCC cited technological change, such as the National Broadband Network, meant the companies could move into each other’s markets and expressed concerns a Foxtel-Austar combination could lock up premium content such as sports rights and reduce competition in the broadband market by allowing Telstra to bundle those rights with its phone and internet services.

Foxtel is expected to appeal to the Australian Competition Tribunal or take legal action against the regulator if it blocks the deal.

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