German Kartellamt to investigate pay-TV business

The German monopoly regulator Bundeskartellamt has said it will investigate the pay-TV businesses of Premiere, Unitymedia and Kabel Deutschland KDG. The authority suspects that the mandatory set-top boxes are impeding competition.

“It is suspected that the technical requirements of the set-top boxes set by these companies leads to an impediment of the competition in the cable TV and pay-TV market,” said the press spokeswoman for the Cartel Office, Silke Kaul, to the German magazine Digital Fernsehen.

The Kartellamt has said it is reacting to consumer complaints. When people are moving house or changing providers, their set-top box might become obsolete. The practice also hinders market entrance from others, in particular small to medium-sized operators.

The German Cartel Office is the first to investigate the practice of mandatory set-top boxes. If the regulator decides to take action, it could lead to an accelerated acceptance of Common Interface with satellite and cable STBs.