European Commission ‘plans antitrust investigation’ into Telia’s move into TV

10 May 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The European Commission has upset Telia’s plan to move into Swedish and Finnish broadcasting.

The Commission, which was expected to report today on Telia’s 9.2 billion kronor (€887 million) bid to buy Bonnier Broadcasting, is now planning a full-scale antitrust investigation.

The Reuters news agency cites two unnamed sources saying Telia has failed to address competition concerns.

The bid was always going to be challenging. The Swedish state owns 37% of Telia and 100% of Sweden’s public-sector broadcaster SVT, with which Bonnier competes.

Telia said in July 2018 that it wanted to buy the broadcasting elements of the Bonnier family’s media empire, including Sweden’s TV4 and MTV3, the biggest commercial TV channel in Finland, unrelated to the MTV music channel.

Johan Dennelind, president and CEO of Telia, said last July: “The acquisition is a natural next step to complement Telia Company’s core business, where our millions of customers give us a very strong position in the market. Together with TV4 we will serve customers and viewers in new ways and create new business opportunities. We have great respect for our new role as a media owner and have a clear view of how we will maintain the editorial integrity of the business going forward.”

Neither Telia nor Bonnier are commenting on the Reuters report. Telia’s last word on the planned deal was in March 2019, when it notified the European Commission “of its acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting”.

The deal, said Telia, “is fully in line with Telia Company’s strategy and ambition to offer more to the customers, and combines Telia Company’s leading mobile and fixed network with one of the most successful commercial media-houses in the Nordics”.

That official notification set in train an investigation of 25 working days. According to the Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, the provisional deadline was today – but, it seems, a full inquiry will start.

One of the concerns, says the Reuters report, was that Telia wanted to make the popular TV4 channel exclusive to its customers.

A detailed investigation is likely to last 90 working days, taking it through to September.