The consumer watchdog has concerns about Foxtel's proposed stake in Channel Ten

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Competition watchdog, the ACCC, is concerned about aspects of Foxtel taking a stake in Channel Ten, including sports rights being locked up on cable television.

“The ACCC is concerned that the proposed acquisitions have the potential to substantially lessen competition for the supply of free-to-air television services in Australia, particularly in the broadcasting of sports content,” says ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

Foxtel wants to acquire up to 15% of Ten for about $77 million. And part of the deal is that the free to air network, Ten, ends up with a 24.99% stake in MCN, a supplier of advertising opportunities on subscription television channels.

Ten will also have an option to buy 10% of Presto TV, a streaming media joint venture between Foxtel and the Seven Network.

Sims says the acquisitions may increase the likelihood of Ten and Foxtel entering into joint bids and other commercial arrangements for acquisition of sports rights, to the exclusion of other free-to-air networks.

“Such arrangements could enhance Ten’s ability to acquire the rights to sports, including premium sports, and could increase the likelihood of more sport being shown exclusively on Foxtel,” Sims says.

The deal could also reduce competition in the sale of advertising, he says.

The ACCC, which has called for further submissions, expects to announce its final decision on the deal late next month.

Ten lost $168.3 million in the year to the end of August in a soft advertising market.

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