Belgian MSOs challenge cable regulations

Belgian cable operators Telenet and are to appeal the decision by regulator group CRC to regulate the country’s broadcast market.

The CRC, which includes regulators the VRM, BIPT, CSA and Medienrat, has submitted that the Belgian analogue and digital TV and broadband Internet markets must make access available to competitors on a wholesale basis. The ruling, which will be implemented from August will affect the networks of Telenet, VOO, Brutélé, Numéricable and AIESH.

Telenet had already signalled its intention to fight the proposals submitted by the CRC to the European Commission in May, following criticism of the original proposals by the EC. The CRC’s revised proposals dropped an earlier inclusion of incumbent Belgacom from the list of companies that would be given access to the cable operators’ networks and proposed a pricing of the wholesale offer based on a so-called ‘retail-minus’ formula.

According to Telenet, the regulatory group has failed to take into account the Commission’s criticisms of its revised proposals. These, according to Telenet, focused on the regulator’s approach of imposing wholesale obligations on the basis of an analysis of the retail market, doubts about whether the analysis fulfilled the necessary criteria for intervention, and criticisms of the disproportionate nature of the broadband remedy and the necessity and proportionality of analogue resale obligations.

Telenet has said that it will look at “all legal options” to appeal the decision. VOO meanwhile has said it will appeal the decision before the Brussels Court of Appeals. The Wallonia-based operator said it was “astonished” by the decision to impose additional regulation on operators despite the EC’s opinion expressing serious concerns and calling on the regulators to revisit their market analysis.

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