ProSiebenSat.1, RTL to review court decision

Joint video platform torpedoed

BERLIN — German commercial broadcasters ProSiebenSat.1 and RTL may appeal a Duesseldorf court’s ruling nixing plans for a joint Hulu-like online video platform.

The Higher Regional Court on Wednesday upheld a decision made last year by Germany’s federal antitrust watchdog to block the proposed service. The Cartel Office described the venture at the time as anti-competitive, adding that it would strengthen the dominant TV duopoly between the two groups.

ProSiebenSat.1 and RTL have both expressed disappointment at the decision and indicated that they will review it before deciding on further action, which could include taking the case to the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s supreme court.

In a statement, ProSiebenSat.1 said, “We cannot understand the decision against a reasonable, consumer-friendly video platform open to all stations. We will look closely at the grounds for the judgment and consider whether to appeal.”

The court’s decision went “against the German media industry because foreign corporations will not hesitate to penetrate this market,” the company said, adding that it was regrettable “that there will be no technical, convenient video platform set up by German hands.”

A spokesman for RTL Germany said it still considered the planned platform to be in line with the country’s competition laws.

Federal Cartel Office prexy Andreas Mundt welcomed the decision as “an important signal for the protection of competition in the field of new media.”

Pubcaster giants ARD and ZDF aren’t having problems with plans for their own VOD service, dubbed Germany’s Gold. They are joining 17 domestic partners, including producers and distribution outfits, on the new service.

In addition, Gallic media conglom Vivendi will roll out its own VOD service in Germany this year.

ProSiebenSat.1 owns the country’s biggest pay VOD platform, Maxdome, which boasts some 800,000 users.

A number of other players are also carving up the market, including Amazon-owned Lovefilm, Deutsche Telekom, iTunes and cable giant Kabel Deutschland.

While Netflix has launched in the U.K. and Ireland, it has yet to reach continental Europe.

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