Monday, March 10, 2008

BPN 1033 BBC protects Dutch TV distribution rights

BBC fights with a Dutch dish contractor about the distribution of television packages for BB1 and BBC. Both parties are now involved in a legal case. The case was reported by Peter Olsthoorn in Emerce.

The Dutch dish contractor Hertzinger has grown into the media distribution business besides the installation of satellite receptors and glass fibre connectors in housing complexes and housing projects. Hertzinger picks up the satellite signals centrally and distributes them by glass fibre cables to homes.

Hertzinger competes with cable operators. In Amsterdam the company modestly competes for example with UPC; Hertzinger has some 10.000 subscribers to its services there. The difference between the Hertzinger and the UPC offers is that UPC installs, owns and operate the cable, while the satellite reception and connectors for the cable are owned by the organisation of home owners and home companies. Hertzinger delivers media services, for example, to the glass fibre operator Ons Net in Nuenen and to several other glass fibre networks.

Hertzinger delivers media packages or as it claims on its site, rights to media packages. It sells its service for a few euro under the price of the cable operators and even less in case of housing corporations. The company delivers for example 50 television channels and 30 radio channels for 14 euro.

Hertzinger claims that it is allowed to deliver BBC1 and BBC2 in the media packages and has the right to do so. But BBC does not agree on this point as the BBC has only an agreement with NLkabel, the Dutch association of cable operators, for the distribution of the BBC1 and BBC2 channels against an agreed tariff.

The whole affair started last year with an injunction, but this was suspended and in May 2007 converted into a full fledged legal case between the state company BBC and Hertzinger. The legalities of the case look easy. BBC is owner of the content and distribution rights, so a company should have an agreement with the BBC. On the other hand BBC1 and BBC2 can be received by satellite for free. In the Netherlands BBC1 and BBC2 are included in the media packages and the cable operators pay for this distribution right and charge subscribers for these channels. Problem is that BBC has an exclusive agreement (= monopoly) with the members of the cable operators’ association. When Hertzinger looses the case, it will have to negotiate with BBC or drop the channel from its package. Besides when Hertzinger looses this case, other television and radio channels might hand in a claim for payment. A ruling is expected in the coming months.

Blog Posting Number: 1033

Tags: television, distribution rights,,

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