The Dutch association of cable operators, NLkabel, has said that 15 local TV stations are now being distributed in digital tiers and that three more local broadcasters will be added before the end of the year. Both Ziggo and UPC are now talking to a number of local broadcasters and expect to increase the number of digital local stations during 2009.
The digital distribution of local broadcasters has been an issue for some time because of the technical implications. Because local broadcasters serve only certain areas, the cablers have to make investments in their networks to enable this. For some time, the operators and local broadcasters have been talking about who should pay the bill. The cablers want the local stations to deliver a suitable digital signal to a local feeder point at their own cost.
Rob van Esch, director of NLkabel, said, “a number of local broadcasters have already indicated their willingness and ability to pay. Some other local broadcasters lack the financial resources to deliver their signal in the right way.”
Until now, all local broadcasters are only available in the basic analogue tier. Van Esch said: “cable is the only infrastructure that local broadcasters use; they contribute to the local news reporting, local democratic culture and citizenship. Now we offer local television broadcasters in the digital basic tier that unique opportunity.”
Local broadcasters are currently available on digital cable are in the municipalities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen, Westland, Schiedam, Alphen aan den Rijn, Gouda, IJsselstein, Maassluis, West Maas and Waal, Halderberge, Central Delfland, Heumen, Druten and Landsmeer. Oss will follow before the end of 2008, as will Velsen and Schagen. Local digital stations are now available to nearly 900,000 cable households.