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EC leaves Canal+ call to local watchdog

The European Commission is to leave a decision on the acquisition of Canal+ España by Telefónica to Spanish competition watchdog the CMNC.

The development comes as the CEO of Vodafone Spain warned of the risk of Telefónica gaining a dominant position in the pay TV market in the country through the deal.

The CNMC’s chairman José María Marín Quemada has confirmed that the regulator will probe the acquisition.

The deal for 100% control of Canal+ from Prisa and Mediaset will give Telefónica a very strong position in the Spanish TV market, where it also operates its own Movistar TV service.

Vodafone Spain CEO Antonio Coimbra has called on the regulator to be “relentless” in applying conditions to the takeover. Coimbra said that Telefónica and Canal+ together would account for over three in five pay TV customers in Spain and over four-fifths of revenues. He said this would give the operator huge bargaining power in securing premium content rights, including sports rights.

Vodafone is Telefónica’s main rival in pay TV and broadband access in Spain following its acquisition of cable operator Ono.