Cable carriage fee row flares in Germany

Jörn Krieger ©RapidTVNews | 20-01-2012

Germany's cable operators face severe income losses: Public broadcasters ARD, ZDF and ARTE want to drop cable carriage fees from 2013.
"ARD's local affiliates intend not to pay Kabel Deutschland, Kabel BW and Unitymedia carriage fees any longer," an ARD spokeswoman told news agency Reuters.
The cable industry is in rage. It would not be comprehensible why the public broadcasters would in future not want to pay for cable carriage while at the same time continuing to pay for distribution via satellite and DTT, said a Kabel Deutschland spokesman. The last word would not have been spoken in this case, he added, saying that a new carriage contract would now have to be worked out. "We expect to continue receiving carriage fees in future," he stressed.
Unitymedia shares this view. "There is no reason why we should question this contract model which has existed for years," said a spokeswoman.
The plans became public through the publication of the new report compiled by licence fee commission KEF which demanded large-scale cost cuts from ARD and ZDF in order for the licence fee to remain unchanged at €17.98 per month beyond 2013. The report unveils that ARD, ZDF and ARTE intend to drop payments for carriage of their channels on cable networks to achieve the savings.

Through dropping cable carriage fees, the broadcasters could save almost €60 million per year in total. Around one third of the payments are made to market leader Kabel Deutschland, according to industry sources.