Mediakabel gearing up to go digital

Hollywood, Holland in talks to fill first Dutch digital TV sked

AMSTERDAM — Mediakabel, a consortium of 10 Dutch cable companies, is poised to launch Holland’s first digital cable TV platform in December.

Mediakabel will start with 10 pay-per-view and four near video-on-demand channels, as well as a raft of movies, art, documentary, cultural and other thematic channels viewers can order a la carte and then construct their own bouquet.

Although officials at the consortium refused comment about ongoing negotiations, Mediakabel is believed to be in talks with major Hollywood studios to fill much of its content pipeline. Ethnic channels on a premium subscription basis, and interactive services also will be offered.

Several years ago digital became the talk of the media community in Holland, but the cost, the lack of a standard for decoders and consumer indifference delayed launches and to date no company has gotten digital off the ground in this territory.

Canal Plus, in a joint venture with cable and energy company Amstelland Nutsbedrijf, will finish a digital trial in May, but currently the two Canal Plus channels taken over from FilmNet — the pay operations of Amsterdam cable company A2000 and the PPV operations of Casema, one of Holland’s largest cable companies — still are in analog. A2000’s Jan Meurs, managing director of corporate affairs, predicts his company may roll out digital next year.

The rollout schedule calls for the company to hit 43,200 addressable households at startup and increase to 345,600 by 2002.

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