Hege: switchover subsidies a possibility

By Julian Clover

ANGA CABLE 2009 – COLOGNE. Dr Hans Hege has indicated that he would not rule out the possibility of subsidies to assist in cable’s move towards digital broadcasting.

The head of the Berlin-Brandenburg media authority MABB suggested that some financial incentives could be made available, but this was not a discussion that could be expected before the general election. Dr Hege said that he did not want to support the cable industry, but the creative industry, and the conditions had to be right.

Dr Hege successfully led Europe’s first analogue switch-off when Berlin moved to all digital transmissions in 2002. However his support for the technology attracted the attention of the European Commission.
In a discussion on the timing of digital switchover, panellists from the commercial broadcaster RTL and public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk agreed that it was important to continue reaching the same audience level as today.

“At first glance our viewers couldn’t care less whether it’s analogue or digital, but it is a real situation when a viewer cannot control their TV set, or when something available free in analogue now has to be paid for,” said Herbert Tillmann, director production and engineering, Bayerischer Rundfunk.

“On the one hand we are not happy with the progress of digitalisation level of cable, which is needed for pay-TV subscriptions to flourish, but in satellite digital TV is more advanced by the focus on transmission costs,” added Andre Prahl, head of program distribution at RTL Germany’s CBC division. He ventured that satellite should take the lead, but this itself brings problems through the need to ‘retro-fit’ some headends to convert signals back to analogue.