Kabel Deutschland to keep basic encryption

Jörn Krieger | 28-12-2012

Germany's largest cable operator Kabel Deutschland doesn't intend to lift the basic encryption of commercial free-to-air channels on its cable network for the time being.

The company will evaluate whether it will lodge a complaint against the cartel office's decision at the court of appeal in Düsseldorf within the one-month deadline, Kabel Deutschland said in a statement. The company added that it isn't yet known whether and when the digital TV channels operated by RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 will have to be distributed unencrypted in standard definition on its cable network.

"As the first step, the channels have to approach us. This has not yet been the case," the statement said. "There will therefore be no change regarding basic encryption of the digital channels of both broadcast groups on Kabel Deutschland's cable network at this stage."

Kabel Deutschland will therefore retain its special status in the German cable market as the only one of the three large cable operators that encrypts the commercial TV channels available free-to-air via satellite and DTT. Unitymedia will drop the much criticised basic encryption on 2 January 2013, while Kabel BW has always carried the channels unencrypted.

As part of the penalty for the deployment of basic encryption, the cartel office has stated that the commercial TV groups should distribute their digital channels unencrypted nationwide on all broadcast infrastructures for ten years from 2013. The decision is not yet legally valid, however, as objections can still be lodged at the local appeal court.