The channels of German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandradio will return to the former cable network of Unitymedia in early 2020.
Vodafone Deutschland, which acquired Unitymedia in August 2019, has settled its legal dispute about cable carriage conditions with Deutschlandradio and agreed on a long-term cooperation.
As a result, cable customers will again be able to receive Deutschlandfunk (DLF), Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Deutschlandfunk Nova and – for the first time – add-on channel Dokumente & Debatten in digital (DVB-C). Additionally, Vodafone and Unitymedia households will gain access to catch-up service DLF-Audiothek via the GigaTV (Vodafone) and Horizon (Unitymedia) platforms in the course of next year.
Notably, Deutschlandradio’s channels will no longer be distributed in analogue, although the former Unitymedia cable network continues to offer analogue FM cable radio.
The agreement ends the legal dispute between Unitymedia and Deutschlandradio over carriage fees which the parties have now settled amicably. The question of whether distribution requires a contractual basis and, in particular, payment of carriage fees has been the subject of numerous court proceedings. In recent months, Deutschlandradio had emphasised the legal obligation to offer its channels under the ‘must-carry’ regulation and the need for cost-effectiveness when concluding contracts.
In January 2019, Unitymedia discontinued the distribution of the three Deutschlandradio channels, both in analogue and digital. Deutschlandradio had previously terminated the contract for cable carriage of its channels on the Unitymedia network at the end of 2018. Since then, a follow-up agreement for cable distribution has been negotiated.
As part of the new contract, Deutschlandradio has agreed to pay carriage fees, a Vodafone spokesman confirmed to Broadband TV News. “We have reached a comprehensive and forward-looking agreement that goes beyond the distribution of linear radio channels and also includes the implementation of the DLF-Audiothek and the settlement of the legal disputes,” said the spokesman. “A remuneration has to be paid which, in the overall context of this broad cooperation, takes into account not only the distribution services but also the reconciliation of the legal issues in the past.”
Deutschlandradio also confirmed the payment: “Deutschlandradio has reached an agreement with Vodafone/Unitymedia on the payment of a fee that complies with the principle of economy and cost effectiveness as well as our responsibility towards public licence fee payers. Among other things, it covers linear radio distribution,” a Deutschlandradio spokesman told Broadband TV News.
UPDATE, January 7, 2020: The redistribution of the four Deutschlandradio channels on the former Unitymedia cable network will commence on January 21, 2020, according to Vodafone Deutschland.