The Dutch media authority Commissariaat voor de Media (CVDM) has ruled that Ziggo must follow the advice of the local programme councils with regards to the channel line-up of the basic analogue tier.
Last April, Ziggo reduced the number of analogue channels from 34 to 30 in order to free up capacity for digital channels, including more HD services. At the same time, the operator streamlined its analogue offer with no more regional variations. As a result, some international channels such as TV5 Monde, TVE and Rai Uno were dropped.
A number of programme councils protested against the removal of these channels and appealed to the CVDM. Ziggo argued that these channels attracted the least viewers and it has moved the channels to basic digital so that people will still have access to them.
Under Dutch media law, programme councils can advise up to 15 channels in basic analogue. Of these, at least six are ‘must carry’, including the Dutch and Belgian public broadcasters. Cable operators have to follow the advice, unless they can prove there are ‘serious reasons’ not to carry them.
Meanwhile, the international French language broadcaster TV5 Monde has stopped making itself available on basic analogue and has signed an agreement with Ziggo to be carried in basic digital across the network. This has led to some local councils advising another French language channel for basic analogue, such as RTBF from Belgium or France 2 from France.
Kabelraden.nl, the councils’ association, argues that their duty is to offer a balanced analogue bouquet, not just the best watched channels.
In order to prevent losing analogue carriage, a number of commercial broadcasters including RTL, SBS, Discovery and National Geographic have signed distribution contracts with most operators to guarantee analogue carriage regardless of the advice of the councils.