The Competition Commission has rubber stamped the merger of the UK transmission companies Arqiva and National Grid Wireless (NGW).

The result is a unified broadcast transmission infrastructure for the UK operated by a single company.

Undertakings made by Arqiva and NGW have been accepted by the Commission which has now completed its investigation.

The£2.5 billion merger was first initiated in spring 2007. Conditional approval was given in March 2008.

According to Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, which owns the two companies,£10.3 million in one-off legal fees and consultancy costs were incurred during the approval process.

In addition, it is likely to cost approximately£20-30 million to integrate the two companies.

Price guarantees

The merger has gone ahead with guarantees of price and service levels that will ensure that broadcast transmission customers benefit from the merger.

Radio customers, who generally have shorter-term contracts than those for television transmission, will also gain the perpetual right to extend their contracts on existing terms.

An Independent Adjudicator will have powers to resolve any disputes and oversee financial auditing of the digital switchover project.

The agreed undertakings are as follows:

  • 17% discount for existing radio contracts on broadcast transmission services

  • 3.25% discount for existing analogue and low-power digital TV contracts on broadcast transmission services

  • Specific fixed-price reductions on all high power digital TV contracts (post-DSO)

  • Contract renewals to be on same terms as existing, or customer can choose cost-orientated Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms

  • Enhanced minimum service levels for customers

  • Super credit regime (up to 10% of annual contract value) in place of contract termination rights

  • Appointment of Independent Adjudicator to resolve disputes and inspect Regulatory Accounting

  • Option for customers to acquire ‘stranded assets' upon expiry of contract