Belgacom TV customer base reaches 1,254,000

Belgacom TV has said its TV customer growth is continuing with a net TV customer gain in the first quarter of 43,000, leading to a total TV customer base of 1,254,000.

The company’s TV revenue grew by 8.6% to €55 million, driven by the continued subscriber growth. However, the year-over-year revenue growth rate was tempered by the free football offer. Belgacom lost the exclusive rights to Begian premier league football to cablers Telenet and VOO and started to offer the remaining football matches for free.

TV customer gain in the first quarter ended at +43,000 TV subscribers, leading to a total TV customer base of 1,254,000 (+22% year-over-year), of which 196,000 were multiple streams. The TV ARPU, still impacted by the free football offer as of July 2011, declined year-over-year by 9.4% to €17.6.

Belgacom also reported on the access to networks, as required by the Belgian regulators. On July 18, 2011, the Belgian regulators (BIPT, CSA, Medienrat and VRM) published their final decisions on broadband and TV regulation. On the TV market, the dominant cable operators will be regulated in their respective coverage areas and are required to resell analogue TV, to open up their digital TV platform, and to resell broadband.

Belgacom can only obtain access to analogue TV. The wholesale prices of the cable operators will have to be approved by the regulators and the effective implementation of the obligations should occur in the second half of 2012. The cable operators appealed these decisions regarding access to their networkd..

Cable is not included in the broadband market analysis. Based on the new broadband decision, Belgacom has to provide bitstream access for television (multicast). On January 4, 2012, the BIPT approved Belgacom’s alternative multicast solution based on shared channels (wholesale customers can use the multicast channels that are already on the Belgacom network if they acquire the corresponding content rights).

Belgacom submitted a draft detailed reference offer on March 6. The BIPT also maintains also a strong focus on “operational excellence” for wholesale services and has announced that it will assess again the status of wholesale operations at the end of 2012. Belgacom said it has launched an appeal against the broadcast and the broadband decisions.