German HDTV fee plans under fire

Jörn Krieger

Michael Weiland, managing director of Berlin-based crisis communication specialist agency Positioning First Media, is sceptical that the HDTV plans of Germany’s two largest commercial broadcasting groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 will succeed.

Weiland told Berlin-based newspaper Tagesspiegel that he was annoyed at the current discussion between commercial television operators that with the launch of their channels in HDTV this autumn they had also found a new income source. “That is really nothing less than grotesque and comparable to a situation where during the transition from black-and-white to colour television each viewer would have been expected to pay extra fees,” he said.

He added that the commercial broadcasters’ HDTV households would then have the pleasure of watching advertisements in high definition. “I think it’s a plan the channel providers have drawn up without considering viewers and which at the end of the day isn’t going to work out,” said Weiland

RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 want to distribute their main free-to-air channels RTL, Sat.1, ProSieben, VOX and kabel eins on satellite operator SES Astra’s planned HDTV platform HD+. In contrast to the standard definition analogue and digital transmissions which will continue to be transmitted unencrypted, the HDTV variations of the channels, which will mirror the schedules of the standard definition channels including advertising in high definition, will be encrypted and only available upon payment of a fee.