BBC remains cable-only in Holland

By Robert Briel | April 24, 2009

Distribution of the national BBC channels BBC One and BBC Two is to remain exclusive to cable in The Netherlands for the time being.

Roland Plasterk, the minister of education, culture and science, will not intervene in an exclusive distribution contract between the BBC and the cable operators. He said this is response to questions raised in parliament.

Other parties, including IPTV platforms from KPN and Tele2, are also interested in carrying the two national channels, which have been available to Dutch cable viewers since the beginning of cable television in the country.

Minister Plasterk said that parties are free to choose their own distribution channel, such as the analogue or digital cable, Digitenne or satellite, internet or otherwise. This fits the competition between infrastructures.

If players such as cable companies or broadcasters were to abuse a dominant position by any exclusive contracts, this could constitute an infringement of the competition rules. Under the current Competition Act, the competition authority NMa has the power to assess whether this is the case.

The retransmission of the BBC channels has been taking place since the beginning of cable in The Netherlands (and Belgium), due to the overspill of the signals into these countries. At first, cable companies just took the signals, but later on the situation was ‘legalised’ with the BBC clearing all rights for such retransmissions.

All national BBC channels are also freely available on satellite, as the Astra satellite at 28 degrees East easily covers the Benelux countries with its FTA signals.