Dutch delay HbbTV must-carry enforcement

January 3, 2014 09.43 Europe/London By Robert Briel

Hbb TVThe Dutch government is still studying the effects of enforcing must-carry legislation for HbbTV services on cable networks.

In a letter to Parliament, Sander Dekker, the secretary for media, has written that he is awaiting the results of a study on the economic and technical effects of enforced HbbTV carriage. Until now, the country’s two largest cable operators, Ziggo and UPC, are blocking the HbbTV signals.

Dekker said that research institute TNO will be completing its study in March. He also said he is seeking judicial advice on European regulation regarding must-carry requirements before making a final decision.

Dutch Parliament has requested to implement must-carry for HbbTV services. At the moment, Dutch public broadcaster NPO is offering the service with catch-up TV and streaming radio services.

However, only a limited number of TV distribution platforms are carrying the service, including the Digitenne DTT network, the CanalDigitaal DTH service and a few cable networks including Delta.

Apart from the thee Dutch national public channels, SBS is also testing HbbTV, while a number of foreign channels distributed over Dutch cable nets also offer HbbTV, such as ARD, ZDF, TVE and RTL Germany.

Ziggo and UPC are not carrying the HbbTV signals and both even have made moves to make implementation difficult. The remote control of the UPC Horizon set-top box has no red button at all, and Ziggo uses the red button for its cloud-based interactive services without a set-top box.

Although Ziggo and UPC have never given a reason for filtering the signals, it looks like they want to prevent their customers from using over-the-top services such as the on-demand functions on the HbbTV platform.