DLM issues warning to cabler Primacom

Regulators threaten to intervene on digital fee plan

BERLIN — German cable wars took a new turn Wednesday with the Deutsche Landesmedienanstalten, Germany’s highest media authority, issuing a warning to cabler Primacom over plans to introduce fees to digital viewers.

The DLM said it would intervene in Primacom’s plan to make channels previously available for free available to paying subscribers only.

The development is part of Primacom’s pilot digital project in the Leipzig region offering digital packages to 40,000 cable households that are among the first in Germany to have had cable upgraded for advanced broadband services such as video on demand.

Germany’s cable systems networks are in the process of being sold off to private owners faced with the huge cost of upgrading as well as the red tape which may likewise interfere with their plans.

Earlier this week, the region’s local media authorities threatened to fine Primacom if it fails to restore web Kabel 1 into its analog capacity. The channel says it was removed temporarily to make room for the current digital pilot phase.

It’s the second cable fee incident this week, with pubcasters ARD and ZDF complaining to German cartel authorities about cable gatekeeper Deutsche Telekom’s practice of charging carriage fees to cable channels .

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