|Author (Person)||Chapman, Peter|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.30, 26.7.01, p4|
CABLE TV operators are campaigning against new EU rules that could force them to carry swathes of channels picked by national authorities.
The warning on the requirement known as 'must carry' comes as MEPs prepare to vote on a draft directive covering the struggling sector at the start of their autumn session. 'Must carry' is seen as a way to guarantee that some public service broadcasts are offered to cable customers and to ensure they are not squeezed-out in a commercial frenzy.
But Hendrik Abma, spokesman for the European Cable Communications Association, said the obligations sap cable networks of vital bandwidth - denying them potential revenue from fast Internet services. At the same time, operators seldom get a fair reward for actually carrying the services, he claimed. "Most European cable networks are in great need of investment to upgrade the networks to the required standard and in new interactive services. We can agree that some 'must carry' [channels] can be acceptable but some times it goes too far - for example we don't want any commercial channels without a public remit getting 'must carry' status."
German cable operators are the most weighed down - more than 30 channels have 'must carry' status. In parts of Belgium, pay-TV Canal Plus services must also be offered.
Abma said a recent common position reached by telecom ministers was too tough and urged MEPs to follow a more sympathetic report by UK Conservative Malcolm Harbour when they vote in September.
Industry warns cable networks could be the forgotten victims of the struggling telecoms sector. While telecom firms have been able to secure funds to see them out of their current third-generation-mobile-induced cash crisis, cable companies are finding it harder going.
Cable TV operators are campaigning against new EU rules that could force them to carry swathes of channels picked by national authorities.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|