Holland’s largest cable operator Ziggo has removed CNN International from the basic analogue tier in a number of cities including Utrecht. The cabler has replaced the US news channel and its own information channel Ziggo TV with TV5 Monde and TVE Internacional, as ordered by the local Programme Council.
In other cities, CNN and Ziggo TV have to make room for the French and Spanish channels or for the Italian state broadcaster RAI Uno. The operator has said it does not want to remove CNN for other, less watched channels, but is forced to do so by the Programme Councils.
Last year, Ziggo reduced the number of analogue channels across its entire network to 30 in order to make room for more digital TV capacity to accommodate HD and SD channels, as well as to free up capacity for broadband access. At the same time, the cabler harmonised its basic analogue, offer including the most-watched channels.
A number of local Programme Councils, however, protested as they want to include international channels such as TV5Monde, RAI Uno, TVE Internacional and ERT World (Greek). In the first instance, Ziggo refused, claiming that all the ethnic channels and more are available in basic digital, which is available at no additional charge to all analogue subscribers who buy a digital cable tuner.
The Councils started legal proceedings, and following a court order the operator now has to re-instate the ethnic channels – blaming of course the Councils for the removal of better watched channels such as CNN. The Councils, on the other hand, claim that Ziggo should not have decreased the number of analogue channels.
It is our take that with the introduction of basic digital television the Councils have outlived their purpose. People who want to receive just a single channel from their home country can do so by getting basic digital for a one-off fee of buying a cable tuner. In addition, they can in many cases buy additional tiers of digital premium channels in their preferred language. However, in practice, most people who want access to their home country channels buy a satellite dish to receive multiple services rather than the single state broadcaster on cable.