South Korea’s competition watchdog gave conditional approval for the acquisition of two cable-TV companies by mobile operators, as they aggressively push to expand their footprints in the pay-TV sector, The Korea Herald reported.

The decision by the Fair Trade Commission gives the green light for SK Telecom’s ISP unit SK Broadband to acquire cable-TV operator t-broad for KRW4.7 trillion ($4 billion), and LG Uplus to purchase the country’s largest cable-TV company CJ Hellovision for KRW800 billion.

Both operators were ordered to take corrective action until the end of 2022 to limit price hikes and ensure consumers continue to have choice. These include a ban on increasing prices by more than the rate of inflation.

FTC chairperson Joh Sung-wook told The Korea Herald the moves aim to tackle apprehension over the impact on consumers from any reduction to competition.

Data from the Korea Communications Commission showed KT held a 31.1 per cent share of the pay-TV market at end-2018, followed by SK Broadband (14.3 per cent), CJ Hellovision (12.6 per cent), LG Uplus (11.9 per cent), t-broad (9.6 per cent) and D-Live (6.3 per cent), the newspaper wrote.

In July 2016 the commission rejected market leader SKT’s bid to acquire CJ Hellovision over concerns the move would curb market competition.