Developers cleared over pay-TV service


MANY OF the State’s large property developers have been cleared of anti-competitive practices in relation to the provision of pay-television services in apartment blocks.

An investigation by the Competition Authority, carried out in response to numerous complaints by apartment dwellers who found themselves forced to subscribe to a particular service, has failed to find any evidence of anti-competitive practices.

The authority says exclusive agreements for pay-television services to apartments are unlikely to breach the Competition Act, so long as the period of exclusivity is for no longer than two years. Agreements lasting longer than two years may also be acceptable provided they meet certain conditions.

Among the developers cleared are Gannon Homes, Menolly Homes, Shannon Homes, Rhatigan Developments, Harcourt Developments, Ballymore Construction Projects and Castlethorn Construction, each of which had separate, exclusive deals with a pay-television provider.

Complaints were made by residents of about 75 apartment blocks, who pay subscriptions for pay-television services ranging from € 15 to € 40 a month. Consumers found that when they wanted to change provider, because of price, poor reception or channel choice, they were unable to do so.

According to the ruling, no pay-television provider enjoys a dominant position in the market, a threshold test for taking action under competition legislation.

It says that while consumers are best served by vigorous competition and a variety of choices, short-term exclusive agreement are warranted to provide a guaranteed income stream and the incentive to install expensive infrastructure.