Liberty Global launches unencrypted cable package for Austria

Jörn Krieger | 31-10-2012

Austria's largest cable operator UPC Austria will launch a digital basic package on 31 January 2013 which will be distributed completely unencrypted.

This will enable customers to use any digital TV device of their choice for reception, for example a flat-screen TV set with an integrated digital cable tuner (DVB-C).

A separate set-top-box like the UPC Mediabox or a common interface module (CI+) will no longer be required, also no additional fees will be charged for reception. With the move, the subsidiary of US media company Liberty Global wants to simplify access to digital cable television and encourage more customers to make the transition from analogue to digital reception.

The digital basic package which will be named "Telekabel TV Digital" will contain the 47 public and commercial TV channels which are currently distributed in analogue on cable. The line-up will also comprise high-definition public channels ORF 1 HD and ORF 2 HD. The analogue offering will continue to be provided for the time being.

The move makes it increasingly clear that Liberty Global pursues a more aggressive digitalisation strategy at its cable assets in German-speaking Europe to push their base of analogue cable households – around 50% of the customers – to change over to digital television as soon as possible.

Liberty Global's subsidiaries UPC Cablecom in Switzerland and Unitymedia in Germany will also lift encryption of their digital basic packages on 1 January 2013. Kabel BW is already not employing the controversial encryption of digital free-to-air channels on cable which has repeatedly been criticised by consumer protectors and media authorities for slowing down the digitalisation process.