In an unprecedented move, the Dutch MSO Ziggo has launched a legal action against the so-called ‘cable councils’ that have the right by law to determine which channels a cable operator must carry in its basic analogue offer.
The action before the Dutch media authority Commissariaat voor de Media comes at the time when Ziggo is bringing down its number of analogue channels to 30 across the entire network and follows complaints from a number of councils that claim Ziggo does not follow their decisions in a number of cities.
Ziggo has streamlined the analogue bouquet across its network with 27 of the 30 channels being the same across the network; the remaining three channels are reserved for local or regional variations. This leaves very little room to manoeuvre for the councils.
This dispute centres around carriage of international public broadcasters such as RAI Uno, France 2, TVE Inernacional and TRT INT. Ziggo claims they follow the advice of the council by putting such channels into basic digital. A ruling by the Commissariaat is expected in a month’s time.
By law, the cable councils can decide the first 15 channels in the basic analogue package, but they have to include all must-carry channels – which include the three national Dutch public channels, the two Dutch language Belgian public channels and one regional public broadcaster.
Most operators also have binding contracts with major commercial broadcasters including RTL, SBS, National Geographic and Discovery to include (some of) their channels in basic analogue. Some broadcasters, including Arte and TV5Monde, have also decided to make their channels exclusively available for digital distribution and not anymore for analogue.