German cablers fight over public carriage fees
By Robert Briel

ANGA CABLE 2012 – Cologne. The German cable operators are strongly opposed to the intention of public broadcasters ARD and ZDF to stop paying carriage fees.

“The public broadcasters are paying for their digital terrestrial transmitters, they are leasing satellite capacity, but they expect us to distribute their channels for free,” said Thomas Braun, president of the association of German Cable Operators (ANGA) during his opening speech of the conference.

Both ARD and ZDF have scrapped the carriage fee they have been paying up till now to the country’s cable operators in order to save money. Apparently, they are betting on the fact that their main channels enjoy ‘must carry’ status and that public demand will guarantee carriage.
Not surprisingly, the cable operators are vehemently opposed to the pubcasters’ strategy and express their anger. Until now, they receive around €60 million per year for carriage of the public channels. Payments will end on December 31. 2012.

It is still possible an agreement will be reached between the cable operators and the broadcasters, but there is some fear among smaller operators only the big ones, such as Kabel Deuschland and Unitymedia Kabel BW, will receive compensation.
Meanwhile, the cablers are stressing the fact they may have to carry the main channels, but are not required to carry HD versions and all the regional channels nationwide.