Dutch ACM closes investigation into FOX Sports Netherlands media rights

Dutch competition authority ACM has closed its investigation into Fox’s new contract terms with pay TV distributors for the supply of Fox Sports Eredivisie channels showing Dutch Eredivisie football.  ACM found no evidence that retail competition would be distorted: distributors provide a bundle of channels of which Fox Sports Eredivisie is only one part, and consumers focus more on the TV bundle price and Internet speed.  ACM found that, if anything, Fox’s new contract terms incentivise distributors to lower their retail prices to increase subscriber numbers, benefiting consumers.

Triple-play distributor Caiway had complained in July 2016 that Fox’s new contract terms discriminate between distributors, resulting in excessive prices.  Under the new contracts, Fox require its main premium channel featuring live Dutch Eredivisie football matches to be included in the distributor's basic pay TV bundle.  In addition distributors now have to pay a fee for each subscriber, regardless of whether the subscriber has a Fox Sports Eredivisie subscription with that individual.  Under the old contracts, distributors have to pay per Fox Sports Eredivisie subscriber only.

CRA’s team assisting 21st Century Fox during the investigation included Cristina Caffarra, Helen Weeds and Gerhard Dijkstra.  The CRA team examined whether having non-identical contract terms for TV distributors that conclude contracts at different moments in time complied with ACM’s non-discrimination requirement, and whether any requirements for a discriminatory conduct theory of harm might be present (given that Fox is not active in the retail market).

For more details, please see ACM’s press release (in Dutch).

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