Government orders Duch cablecos to open networks

25 Oct 2006

The Dutch government yesterday ruled that domestic cable operators must open their networks to rivals, although industry watchers are unclear on whether the plan can actually be drafted into law. With cable TV networks covering more than 90% of households in the Netherlands, the country’s two dominant political parties – the ruling conservative Christian Democrats and the opposition left Labour party – joined forces to support the passing of the new resolution in parliament, with the vaunted aim of increasing competition and reducing prices to the end user. The government however, is against the move at this time saying it is too much too soon and could also be in violation of European rules.

According to the Economic Affairs Ministry spokesman Ruud Stevens, the resolution in question would effectively force all cable TV firms to hive off their broadcasting operations from their network arms, and allow other broadcasters to use their networks on equal terms. The new rules would affect all cablecos – large and small – resulting in a situation some have criticised as ‘financially undesirable and practically impossible’. The Consumer Protection Agency welcomed the news which comes after years of campaigning on its part, while the Dutch cable industry association Vecai said that while it has accepted the regulator’s ruling, it would appeal to European courts if the new resolution is drafted into law.