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Telekom’s sowing seeds for bouquets

BERLIN — German telco Deutsche Telekom AG is reportedly planning to market channel bouquets on its own digital pay TV cable platform by the end of this year, and is considering raising cable carriage fees for German stations.

According to German weekly Der Spiegel, Telekom will offer Germany’s 17 million cable households a selection of private and public stations in digital form for an additional monthly payment. The first multichannel bouquets could be available in certain areas of Germany by Christmas.

By creating its own digital platform, Telekom allegedly wants to provide cable subscribers with an alternative to the digital pay TV platforms of media giants Bertelsmann and the Kirch Group.

Neither Kirch’s DF1 nor Premiere, in which Bertelsmann and Kirch both hold shares, has been able to reach an agreement with Telekom regarding cable access.

Both DF1 and Premiere have so far refused to relinquish control of the packaging, marketing and subscriber management of their digital channels to Telekom.

The issue of which conditional access system will set the standard for the German market also has yet to be resolved: DF1 and Premiere have their own decoders, while Telekom has announced plans to market a lower-priced digital set-top box starting this summer.

Currently in the process of privatization, Telekom is anxious to turn a profit on its money-losing cable systems. To increase revenues, the telco will, according to Der Spiegel, raise nationwide analog cable carriage fees paid by German stations from $588,000 (1 million marks) to $1.9 million (3.2 million marks) a year.

In response to complaints that the 31 spots currently available to analog stations on German cable systems are not enough, Telekom has offered to free up two hyperband channels previously reserved for digital transmission for analog use.

Telekom reportedly has plans to expand its cable systems to accommodate 20 additional channels over the next several years.

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