The opening up of Dutch cable networks UPC and Ziggo for resellers of the analogue TV bouquet should not impede the speed of digitalisation in the country. The blessing of the European Commission to open up cable comes with the restriction that the measure should be abolished as soon as possible.
The Commission gave the Dutch telecom regulator OPTA the green light to its plan to allow resellers of the analogue television product on the country’s two largest cable operators. “The Dutch broadcasting market structure diverges from most of the other EU Member States as cable networks in The Netherlands are the most concentrated grid systems providing a comprehensive offer of analogue RTV-signals,” said the official press release of the Commission.
In the press release, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes is also quoted as saying: “Regulating analogue RTV should not have the effect of postponing the move towards digitalisation. For that reason, the Dutch regulator should ensure that the resale obligation of analogue RTV programmes is removed as soon as possible”.
The press release in addition stated: “The Commission took into account that at present the Dutch RTV market is characterised by the importance of analogue RTV signals, provided by strong cable infrastructures, together having nationwide coverage. At the same time, the Commission asks the regulator to ensure that analogue RTV transmission is not unnecessarily prolonged, as this could hamper efficient investments in digital infrastructures and the development of innovative services. The Commission also invites the regulator to implement the resale obligation as well as the detailed terms and conditions thereof, in the shortest delay possible so as to swiftly generate a market structure that is more prone to competitive dynamics. Once such a structure has been achieved, the proposed obligation should be withdrawn as soon as possible.” (The italisation is ours, Broadband TV News)
It is our take that the decision of the European Commission was a very close one. Until now, the Commission rejected the OPTA proposals. We believe that by opening up the analogue cable to third party resellers the digitalisation process will be hampered.