Dutch to scrap cable programme councils

The Netherlands flagChanges to the Dutch media law will mean the end of the current system of cable programme councils.

Dutch Parliament will discuss the changes to the media law sometime early this year. The current draft, prepared by Secretary Sander Dekker, responsible for media, was approved by the Council of State.

The new law will put all broadcasting platforms (cable, IPTV, DTT and satellite DTH) under the same rules. Until now, only cablers were obliged to have a programme councils to advise about the line-up of the basic analogue tier.

All platforms with at least 250,000 connected homes will be subject to the law. As long as there is an analogue tier, there have to be at least 15 channels in the package including the must-carry channels Nederland 1, 2 and 3, one regional public channel, one local pubic channel and two Flemish public channels.

Those platforms that offer digital television have to offer a basic tier of at least 30 channels. These have to include all must carry channels, as well as a third Flemish public channels and additional regional channels from neighbouring provinces.

DTT and DTH are exempt for some of the rules. KPN’s Digitenne only offers 25 channels, due to terrestrial capacity restraints. The platform is also not required to carry more than one regional public channel and does not have to broadcast local channels.

Canal Satellite Digitaal, the nation’s sole DTH platform, will also be exempted from offering the Flemish pubic channels to all its subscribers. These channels are now sold in an extended tier rather than in basic. The exemption will run until October, 2017.

The new media law doers not allow for any direct influence by consumers in the channel offerings of the platforms. This will mean the de-facto end of he current cable programme councils. Kabelraden.nl, the national platform for the councils, is now lobbying to keep some kind of consumer representation with the distribution platforms.