German consumers shouldn’t have to pay for digital signals which they now receive for free in analogue, according to Werner Hanf, MD of the local Cologne cable operator NetCologne.
Speaking on behalf of the small privately owned cable operators in the country, Hauf said he and his colleagues will continue to offer analogue signals to their customers for as long as possible. He added that viewers do not understand why they have to pay for digital while the same content is availble at no cost in analogue.
“To me, this model represents a rip off. And it is not customer friendly. Why should they switch to digital television? ” It is much better to convince consumers to switch to digital by emphasising additional services such as interctive TV and VOD as well as a better quality such as HD.
“The digitalisation process should not be used to optimise business,” according to Hanf. “Especially international financial investors promote the thesis that television in Germany is too “cheap”. In Germany, the current structure of public and private, advertising-funded broadcasters have led to an extensive free TV offer, with a very high quality when compared internationally. In the current plans for digitalisation there is a danger that in the future more and more attractive content on free TV will disappear and be moved to digital and paid programming.”
NetCologne and other so-called “mittelständischen Kabelnetzbetreiber” (medium sized operators) prefer all channels in the basic digital offer to be ‘free-to’air’ rather than encrypted.
The German public broadcasters already prevent cablers from scrambling their signals on the networks.