A judge of the Provincial Court of Madrid (Audiencia Provincial de Madrid) has ruled that the pay-TV operator Sogecable and its subsidiary Digital+ have to open up the market for decoders of the service. The judgement follows complaints from the Consumers Union of Pontevedra (Unión de Consumidores de Pontevedra).
The Union started proceedings on April 24, 2008. They argued that the contract imposed by Digital+ was illegal by forcing consumers to buy or rent the decoder from the operator in a market which could be worth €927 million.
As part of the evidence, lawyers recorded a telephone conversation between a consumer and the Digital+ call centre about the possibility of using a third party decoder. This was “not possible”, according to the call centre agent.
Canal Satélite Digital is likely to appeal the ruling, according to counsel Miguel Fernandez-Pedrera.
We will see similar resistance against closed decoder markets in other countries. Last year, a similar case was against Sky Italia was won by the complainant (see Broadband TV News passim). In Germany, the Kartelamt is looking into the closed shop of set-top boxes for cable and premium services.