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Swisscom to contest ruling in sports rights case

Swiss telco Swisscom has said it will fight a CHF143m (€137m/$151m) fine that Switzerland’s Competition Commission (ComCo) is seeking to impose for alleged prohibited marketing of sports content via pay-television.

ComCo has accused Swisscom of abusing a market-dominant position in offering Swiss football and ice hockey games through pay-television broadcaster Teleclub. It has put forward the fine, along with adding that wherever technically possible, Swisscom must provide all television platforms in Switzerland with equivalent Teleclub sports programming under non-discriminatory conditions.

Swisscom said in a statement: “Swisscom denies these allegations and regards the sanction as unjustified. Swisscom is in fact surprised by the content of the draft decree and the requested fine.

“Swisscom and the Cinetrade Group comply with the law in their marketing of sports programmes via pay TV. As in other countries, broadcasting rights for sports programmes are issued periodically as part of a competition in which cable providers, for example, also participate.

“Sports broadcasts were previously a neglected segment in Switzerland, and the high levels of investment that Swisscom and Cinetrade have dedicated to making them attractive for pay TV justify an expanded sports offering via the Swisscom TV platform. This is the only way in which the investments can be sufficiently protected.

“Since entering the TV business in 2006, Swisscom has opened up fierce competition in the Swiss television market and has gradually put together a comprehensive package for live broadcasts of football and ice hockey league matches. Thanks to this commitment from Swisscom and Cinetrade, sports fans today can benefit from a much wider selection of live broadcasts on both free TV and pay TV. For example, there are now four to six times more Swiss football matches available to watch live on free TV.”

Swisscom added it will examine the 170-page version of the draft decree in detail and issue a statement by the requested deadline. A definitive decree from ComCo can be contested by an objection with Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court and ultimately with the Federal Court if necessary.