Cabler's CEO sez digital decoder is 'unacceptable'

BERLIN — U.S.-Dutch cable operator UPC and Deutsche Bank, both in negotiations with Deutsche Telekom to buy part of its cable network, have said no to the Kirch Group’s digital decoder D-box, which they fear Telekom would try to force on potential buyers.

Mark Schneider, CEO of UPC, told German financial daily Handelsblatt that the D-box technology was “unacceptable. There are people all over the world who build better decoders than Kirch,” Schneider said.

Schneider added that it was customary in other countries for cable-network operators to only recommend certain standards to be met, but leave it to manufacturers to build their own decoders. However, Schneider said he still hoped for success in negotiations with Telekom.

Handelsblatt also quotes unnamed sources from Deutsche Bank as saying the company is not interested in investing in Telekom’s cable operations if they have to accept the D-box, which it sees as out-of-date technology.

The Deutsche Bank said that it will remain in negotiations with the telecommunications giant. Last week, Telekom sold 55% of its regional cable company in North Rhine-Westphalia to U.S. investor Richard Callahan, who accepted the D-box.

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