The competition watchdog of the European Commission (EC) is tomorrow expected to announce that the merger of Italian pay-TV companies Telpiu and Stream can go ahead.

The deal was sealed five months ago with the News Corp-controlled Stream buying Telepiu from Vivendi Universal's Canal Plus unit for Euros 900m.

The deal will leave a single pay-TV operator in the country, but the EC regulators have had to weigh up the possibility that if it blocked the deal one or both companies would go out of the business. That would leave Italy with a de facto monopoly or no pay-TV service at all.

The EC is now expected to allow the latest merger agreement to go through without changes. Earlier amendments by the companies are believed to have limited the length of output deals with the Hollywood studios to a maximum of three years. The new owners also agree to dispose of some of Telepiu's terrestrial stations.