German cartel office to probe ARD/ZDF video portal

Jörn Krieger ©RapidTVNews | 28-11-2011

The German cartel office Bundeskartellamt has launched an in-depth investigation into the plans by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF to create a joint video-on-demand (VOD) portal.

"The project underlies the same anti-trust conditions as the platform planned by RTL and ProSiebenSat.1," said Andreas Mundt, president of Bundeskartellamt. "We will, for example, examine whether the public broadcasters' plans will restrain competition in the areas of production and licencing. We will also look at the viewer markets."
Commercial subsidiaries of ARD and ZDF in conjunction with several TV production companies submitted their plans to create a joint venture for video-on-demand (VOD) services at the cartel office in October 2011.
The portal which carries the working title "Germany's Gold" is designed as a central hub on which internet users can access selected programmes provided by the companies involved and third-party suppliers. The content will be offered either for a fee (individually or as part of a subscription) or free-of-charge (financed through advertising).
In April 2011, it became known that ARD and ZDF along with partners such as Bavaria, Studio Hamburg, Telepool and Jan Mojto want to set up a VOD portal containing programmes from 60 year's of German TV history.
Earlier, the cartel office prohibited plans by commercial TV broadcasters RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 to create a joint video portal modeled on popular US platform Hulu. With the venture, the two TV groups would strengthen their dominating position in the TV advertising market, the competition authority argued.
RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 have taken legal action against the cartel office's decision .