09.16 Europe/London, July 19, 2011 By Julian Clover
Telenet has signalled its intention to appeal against plans to further regulate Belgium’s broadband and television markets. The cablenet said the Open Cable proposals from Conference of Regulators (CRC) had missed the opportunity to align its regulatory decision with earlier comments from the European Commission.
The CRC encompasses the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, the Medienrat en the Belgian Institute for
Postal Services and Telecommunications). Its decision means that from August 1, 2011 opens up the networks of Brutélé, Numéricable, Tecteo, AIESH and Telenet, requiring the operators to put forward a wholesale offer for analogue and digital television services, and broadband internet access.
According to the CRC, while the arrival of digital television has brought with it services such as HD and 3D, there remained a number of problems that justified regulatory intervention. “The game of competition has not produced a
satisfactory decrease in consumer prices and alternative operators cannot evolve adequately in a competitive market without access to a television product. International benchmarking shows that television products in Belgium are not among the cheapest in Europe; this is even more so when they are part of bundled offers. Moreover, in most cases, consumer choice for television is limited to the cable operator active in their area of residence or Belgacom”.
The CRC says that it took into account comments from the European Commission and that there were no objections to the “essential elements” of its draft decisions. Specifically:
the significant market power of cable operators;
the obligations to provide access to the digital television offer;
the new multicast obligation imposed onto Belgacom.
Last month, the Commission asked the regulators to justify the proportionality of the obligation on cable operators to provide an analogue resale offer. It was also required to explain why Belgacom would also be entitled to gain third party access when it was successfully developing its own IPTV platform.
“Given the short timeframe between the European Commission’s letter of June 20, 2011 and the decision from the CRC, Telenet questions whether the CRC has effectively “taken the utmost account” of the European Commissions’ comments pursuant to Article 7(5) of the Framework Directive. If the CRC would not or insufficiently have taken the Commission’s comments into account, the final decision will be unlawful,” said Telenet.
The operator said it has always been convinced that the current market situation does not harm the consumer and that the price of basic cable TV in Belgium is already regulated at retail level.