Belgium’s IPTV provider Belgacom TV has decided to drop distribution of the two main German public channels ARD and ZDF.
Germany has filed complaints about the switch-off and according to the German newsmagazine Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten even prime ministers Angela Merkel has joined the protests. According to the report, she promised to write a letter of complaint to her Belgian counterpart Elio Di Rupo.
Belgacom decided to drop the two main German channels and replace them with three private channels, RTL, Sat.1 and Pro7, because the public broadcasters asked for a yearly one million euro carriage fee, which the operator deemed too expensive. Until now, Belgacom paid EUR500,000 a year to carry the two chnanels.
The channel mainly serves the small German speaking populaition (around 75,000 people) in the German-speaking part of the country around the cities of Eupen and Melmedy. There are also around 40,000 German speakers in and around the capital Brussels. These are mainly politicians and lobbyists.
An online petition against the dropping of the channels attracted around 3,700 signatures.
Meanwhile, Flemish cable operator Telenet has decided to continue carrying ARD and ZDF.