A number of political parties, as well as the Dutch consumers organisation Consumentebond, have issued calls to revive the Dutch Open Cable ruling, which was thwarted by a ruling of the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal earlier this week.
Telecoms regulator OPTA said it is now reviewing the situation: “OPTA is now investigating whether the court ruling still leaves room for further action or that the opening of the TV cable is not possible anymore. OPTA plans to take a decision on the short term.”
Meanwhile, a number of political parties, both on the left and right, have called for a change in the law in order to re-introduce the Open Cable ruling. The consumers union also feels that viewers are the losers “Consumers who want to opt for cable television are left standing in the cold,” said a spokesperson for the organisation. The union called on Minister of Economic Affairs and the Parliament to put “an end to the monopoly of the market, so consumers can choose.”
Caroline Van Weede, Managing Director of Cable Europe, commented: “This week’s decision to overturn a previous market analysis in The Netherlands underscores the presence of healthy competition between various infrastructures within one of Europe’s most connected markets. Getting regulation right is imperative for reducing regulatory burden at a time when Europe’s cable investments are needed most to continue playing a role in aiding the economic recovery.”
It is our take that the consumers union and political parties seem blind to the fact that – on a national level – there is indeed competition between the infrastructures, as the Tribunal has said when overturning the Open Cable ruling. This is even more evident when one looks at the whole Triple Play market than just the television market alone. During the last few years, Dutch consumers have one of the highest broadband penetrations in the world at very competitive prices – thanks to the competition.
Satellite DTH is one competitor on infrastrcuture. “Only competition between infrastructures can break cable monopoly,” according to Bill Wijdeveld, managing director of the Astra Benelux office, who issued a call for action to politicians, “It would be a good idea for the political parties to now start actually promoting competition between infrastructures, starting with the active encouragement of the construction of SMATVs for new buildings and renovation.”