Germany’s competition regulator the Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) has imposed fines totalling €55 million on broadcasting groups RTL and Pro7Sat1 and against two persons deemed responsible. The companies are accused of collusion in the introduction of encryption of free-to-air digital TV services.

The Bundeskartellamt has also secured agreement from the pair to offer SD quality programming unencrypted for a period of ten years. This commitment relates cable, satellite and IPTV transmission. It does not cover HD services.

According to Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, the regulator determined that the two broadcasting groups agreed as far back as 2005/2006 to encrypt digital FTA service in SD and seek a carriage fee. They would also introduce technical measures covering anti-ad blocker and copy protection features.

The fines are not yet final, and are subject to confirmation by the Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf. However, the companies have agreed to an amicable settlement.