VPRT calls cable’s bluff

German private broadcasters say they will not pay carriage fees to the country’s cablenets and have called for the regulation of smart TV.

The German association of private broadcasters VPRT (Verbandes privater Rundfunk- und Telemedien ) has said that if public broadcasters are not required to pay carriage fees to cable operators, commercial channels should also stop paying.

During this year’s general assembly in Berlin, the newly elected chairman of the department of television and multimedia, Annette Kümmel (ProSiebenSat.1 Media), and the re-elected chairman of the department of radio and audio services, Klaus Schunk (Regenbogen Radio Baden), have advocated non-discriminatory conditions for cable carriage for commercial broadcasters in relation to public service broadcasting.

The two big German public broadcasting groups, ARD and ZDF, have said they will stop paying cable operators a carriage fee, which resulted in an escalating conflict between the main cable operators, Kabel Deutschlnd and UnitymediaKabelBW and the broadcasters.

As expected, if the pubcasters won’t pay, the private broadcasters will also contemplate to stop paying. Just before Christmas, a court case will be held between Kabel Deutschland and the pubcasters. “The results of this procedure are also of high interest to private broadcasters,” said Schunk, “we need a level playing field of regulation.”

Kümmel also called for action on new players, for instance in the market of smart TVs. “There are new players, who control access to media, and who can directly or inde=irectlky influcence public opinion, but are under completely different and much lower regulatory restrictions than the broadcasters.

She also rejected the plans by ARD and ZDF to create a new children’s channel.