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Fiscalía Nacional Económica, the Chilean antitrust agency, filed a lawsuit against the football channel for monopoly abuse.

16 / 12 / 2020

Last week, the FNE filed a lawsuit against Canal del Fútbol (CDF, the Chilean football channel) in the Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia (TDLC) for abuse of monopoly power in the market of transmission of live football matches. CDF has established a series of practices that impede competition in the market.

CDF offers a basic channel that does not show live football matches, except for the public in the stadium, and an HD or premium version of the same channel, which allows full access to every live and recorded match of the national football tournament. Considering the importance of football for Chilean consumers and that football clubs’ transmission rights are uniquely in possession of CDF, the product is a must-have for all cable operators.

The FNE points out four practices that conjointly limit competition between cable operators. First, CDF controls and limits all promotions that a cable operator might offer to its customers regarding HD/Premium signals; second, CDF establishes a restriction on the minimum price that cable operator can charge for the HP/Premium signals; third, CDF charges to every cable operator a different goal of a minimum amount of customers that each operator must have in the HD/Premium signals, and if that goal is not met, the operator must pay to CDF as if it were; finally, CDF demands that every operators’ customer has access the basic channel, even if the consumer does not require it.

Although every practice by itself might not constitute anticompetitive conduct, the FNE has considered that the four of them impede the competition between cable operators to attract new customers into their base. Since the football channel is a must-have product, a cable operator might use loss-leading strategies or different promotions, which would increase the benefit for the public. 

The FNE has asked the TDLC to command CDF to stop the practices and impose a USD 24 million fine, the largest ever for a case of monopoly abuse.