German cable operator Unitymedia will perform several changes to its TV and radio line-up including a controversial move on January 22, 2019.
Regional channel Radio Bremen TV HD and educational channel ARD-alpha HD will join Unitymedia’s cable network, the two last channels from public broadcaster ARD launching in HD quality.
In federal state Baden-Württemberg, financial news channel CNBC will be added to the line-up.
The Deutschlandfunk radio channels operated by national public German broadcaster Deutschlandradio will be removed from the cable network at the same time. According to a Unitymedia spokesman, Deutschlandradio cancelled its carriage contract with Unitymedia effective December 31, 2018 and declined the cable company’s offer to enter negotiations regarding a new distribution agreement. He stressed that Unitymedia would be prepared to conclude a new contract any time if the broadcaster was interested in gaining cable carriage again.
Broadband TV News understands that the contract cancellation is based on a dispute regarding carriage fees. The removal of Deutschlandradio’s channels could, however, be legally problematic as the broadcaster is financed by the public licence fee and has a public service obligation from which must-carry status could be derived.
As a result, Deutschlandradio could legally challenge the exclusion from Unitymedia’s cable network and demand the channels’ reintroduction.
“We take note of Unitymedia’s unilateral announcement on January 14, 2019 to remove Deutschlandradio’s channels from its cable network in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and North-Rhine Westphalia on January 22, 2019,” a Deutschlandradio spokesman told Broadband TV News. “We regret this step and are currently evaluating how to proceed. The three Deutschlandradio channels remain available in digital via DAB+, internet and satellite while Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Kultur additionally stay available via FM in many regions.”