Just one day after Proximus presented its new Android TV based platform, public broadcasters VRT and RTBF and private channels VTM and RTL have put a bomb under this ambitious project. The television channels do not accept that the telecom group is updating its television offer without having given its approval beforehand.
With Pickx, Proximus wants to provide an answer to streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. While viewers now have to check what can be seen per channel, Pickx bundles all programmes per genre. As a customer, you put together your own virtual TV channel. However, without an agreement with the broadcasters, Proximus’ initiative is a threat to the local audiovisual sector.
But in a letter to Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy, the country’s four broadcasters indicate that they never gave their consent for Pickx. In previous meetings with the operator, the four channels have invariably expressed their objections, according to the letter. Moreover, the telecom operator had promised to mention at the presentation of Pickx there was no agreement reached with the broadcasters. That did not happen.
The broadcasters note that the audiovisual sector is in a state of flux as a result of the emergence of deferred TV viewing and streaming services. In their letter to Leroy, the four state they understand Proximus’ change of course. But they condemn the ‘disloyal’ way in which the telecom group is tackling this.
The whole sector is subject to major changes and every player has to compete with the same global and wealthy competitors, the broadcasters say. A balanced agreement between broadcasters and distributors is therefore in everyone’s interest. But given the lack of agreement, Proximus’ initiative is a real threat to the local audiovisual ecosystem.
The broadcasters say they all indicate that they have all, individually, and repeatedly in recent weeks, expressed to the operator their many doubts about the respect of their rights under the Pickx platform.
In particular, respect for the integrity of broadcasters’ content is mentioned. In Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of the country, a decree requires operators to distribute the signal as it is, without altering it. Otherwise, the authorisation of the broadcaster is required. However, by organising the content on its platform according to customer preferences, Proximus is undermining this principle of integrity.
The angry broadcasters conclude saying they hope for a new deal. If they don’t get it, they don’t rule out going to court or politics.