Published: 14.02 Europe/London, June 23, 2011
Dutch telecoms regulator OPTA no longer plans to impose further regulation on the Dutch cable sector. The Open Cable plan is now off the table.
In early 2009, OPTA decided that the analogue cable networks of UPC and Ziggo had to be opened up, at least until 2012. New analysis by OPTA now shows that in recent years the television market has become more competitive sooner than was expected as a result of digitisation. With almost 70% of households now able to receive digital television, the importance of analogue is consequently declining.
OPTA remarks that KPN will be able to offer more competitive digital television, and expects consumers to be offered more choice, also by other parties such as Tele2. “In practice consumers also appear to switch providers,” according to OPTA, who expects the growth in innovation and competition on the television market to continue in the coming years. “On the basis of the existing regulatory framework, regulation of the cable network is therefore not necessary at present.”
Cable Europe welcomed OPTA’s decision. While it may seem only relevant to the market in the Netherlands, there are wider implications given other regulatory developments in Europe. “OPTA made a decision today which reflects market realities. After thorough economic analysis of the fast accelerating digitisation and increasing convergence in the TV sector, OPTA has proposed to no longer impose regulatory obligations on the cable companies UPC and Ziggo, an example of better regulation. This is part of an encouraging trend as the European Commission has recently expressed concerns regarding Belgian regulators attempts to impose rules on an evolving TV market.”
However, on Tuesday, June 22, Dutch Parliament voted on an amendment to the new telecoms bill by the socialist party forcing the cable operators to open up their analogue television offer to third party resellers, which was accepted by a majority of the house. The bill first has to go to the Senate before it becomes law and the implications of the acceptance of this amendment remain unclear.
In a letter to the Parliamen Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Economic Affairs, said yesterday that the amendment contravenes the spirit of European regulations, and that he wants to test its legal viability in consultation with the European Commission.