By Chris Dziadul
Published: September 28, 2010 14.50 Europe/London
HCA/HCTA CONFERENCE – TIHANY. The decision by the leading broadcaster RTL Klub to charge a fee for its carriage has caused consternation in Hungary’s cable industry.
Announced late last week, it has been the subject of intense debate at this year’s HCA/HCTA conference in Tihany.
RTL Klub is preparing to introduce a fee, given by one industry source to Broadband TV News as HUF490 (€1.77) plus 25% VAT a month per subscriber, for carriage of RTL Klub. However, this figure is believed to be arbitrary and might be reduced, with special financial incentives offered to operators who agree carry the 10 or so channels in RTL’s portfolio in Hungary.
TV2, also a leading Hungarian commercial broadcaster, apparently tried a similar move four years ago and failed.
A similar situation also existed in neighbouring Romania, where Antena 1 tried to charge cable operators a fee. However, according to Radu Petric, the president of the Romanian Cable Communications Association (ACC), operators dropped the channel and it was forced to withdraw the fee.
Commenting on the RTL Klub situation, Anita Kovacs, a spokesperson for the Hungarian Competition Authority, said that it would be interested in starting an investigation once more details become available.
Some industry sources have expressed concerns that RTL could be used as a ‘testing ground’ for carriage fees ahead of introducing them in other markets, including Germany.
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