A 40-year battle over the sharing of schedule information between the Dutch public broadcasters and commercial publishers seems likely to be drawn to a close. A parliamentary majority is expected to vote for a new law that will force the broadcasters to share their schedule information with other publishers.
Currently the broadcasters only allow other publishers to print the listings information for the day ahead, preventing commercial publishers from publishing their own weekly programming guides. The resulting monopoly each year brings in tens of millions in revenues to the public broadcasters to prop up their programming line-ups.
The Christian Democrats is against the proposal, as is the Socialist Party, which expects the losses to run to €20 million a year. The governing Labour Party (in coalition with the Christian Democrats), feels the public broadcasters should be allowed to seek financial compensation to replenish the resulting losses to revenues from their own programming guides.
Holland’s largest newspaper De Telegraaf has been looking to establish its own guide for nearly 40 years. Opportunities for commercial publishers, such as that of De Telegraaf, and the hit on the public broadcasters revenue, will depend on the conditions set in the new regulation on provision of the programming data.
EPG providers, especially those for PVR recorders, have also been affected by the current monopoly, as they lack the longer term schedules required for programming the box. It was one of the reasons why Philips never introduced its Tivo recorder to the Dutch market, after it signed a co-development deal with Tivo in the late ’90s.