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Swiss regulator opens investigation into UPC’s ice hockey rights

The Swiss Competition Commission (Weko) has opened an investigation into the pay-television market for ice hockey in the country, stating there have been “indications” of antitrust violations by telecommunications company UPC.

The announcement from Weko comes after telecommunications group Swisscom in April filed a complaint against rival UPC to the regulator over the latter’s failure to grant access to its exclusive ice hockey rights to all operators.

In July, UPC unveiled plans for a new sports broadcast platform which it said would “breathe new life” into the media market in Switzerland when it launches this summer.

MySports was formed following UPC’s rights deal with the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. The SIHF earlier awarded its media rights for the five seasons from 2017-18 to 2021-22, with UPC and public-service broadcaster SRG SSR clinching contracts.

UPC will be the SIHF’s main partner having secured rights to club competitions National League A and B, Regio League and the Swiss national teams. Swisscom previously held rights through its Teleclub subsidiary and has claimed UPC’s failure to provide it with access to MySports represents an abuse of its dominant market position.

In a statement, Weko said: “The secretariat of Weko has found evidence that UPC could have a dominant market position in the area of ​​the transfer of top Swiss ice hockey from the 2017-18 season on pay-TV, possibly abusing this position.

“In the investigation conducted by Weko, the question is whether UPC is unjustifiably withholding hockey transmissions from competing TV platform providers, especially those operating over the cable network.”

Swisscom’s complaint comes after Weko in May 2016 fined the telco CHF71.8m (€67.2m/$73m) for abusing its dominant position in live sports broadcasting on pay-television.