Ljubljana – The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) has approved United Group’s acquisition of the Sport Klub TV channels. After long and painstaking procedures, it has now found the concentration compatible with the rules of competition, as the market situation changed significantly with the entry of a new competitor – Arena Sport.
In September 2018, the competition watchdog ordered United Group, the owner of Slovenia’s cable operator Telemach, to sell off the 13 channels from its Sport Klub segment over violation of competition rules, a decision that was subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court.
In 2019, the AVK then also imposed a fine on United Media, the media division of United Group, for belated notification of a market concentration pertaining to Sport Klub TV channels.
In 2020, the Administrative Court annulled the AVK’s order that United Media should sell its Sport Klub TV channels due to anti-trust rules and tasked the anti-trust watchdog with deciding on the matter again.
Meanwhile, a new network of sports TV channels called Arena Sport, broadcast by the Arena Group, have entered the Slovenian TV market in July 2020.
TV operators Telekom Slovenije, T2 and A1, who are the biggest competitors of Telemach (and subsequently of United Media) have removed Sport Klub channels from their TV programme schemes and replaced them with Arena Sport channels.
In the repeated procedure, the AVK has therefore found that the concentration no longer raises competition law concerns due to market developments and decided not to oppose United Group’s Sport Klub business.
The reasons for this decision include the entry of the new competitor with a broad portfolio of rights to broadcast sporting events of interest to viewers.
In addition, three of the four largest operators no longer broadcast Sport Klub TV channels, having replaced them with Arena Sport in their programme schemes.
At the same time, there was no significant switching of subscribers from Telekom Slovenija, T2 or A1 to Telemach or other operators offering Sport Klub TV channels during this period.
The administrative procedures pertaining to United Media, Telemach and the Sport Klub TV channels, which have been going on since 2013, have therefore been completed.