Bulgarian TV7 Halts Broadcasts for Top Cable Operator

Business | January 12, 2013, Saturday // 11:48|  views

The war between the largest cable operator and top channels bTV and TV7 brought down prices for cable and digital TV in Bulgaria. File photo

Effective midnight Friday into Saturday, Bulgaria's TV7 took off its channels from major cable provider Bulsatcom.

The information is published on the TV channel's website.

According to it, the move is grounded on the failure of the 2-week-long negotiations and Bulsatcom bullying TV7.

"The mutually-profitable market conditions proposed by us were rejected, thus we were forced to undertake this extreme measure and protect our copy rights and the work of our employees. We have aired since January 1, 2013, our programs - TV7 and Super7 free of charge for Bulsatcom customers, but the operator is using its cartel position to impose unfavorable clauses single-handedly," the statement reads.

TV7 advises its viewers to switch to honest cable operators in order to be able to enjoy its programs, adding despite the blackmail, the media is going to continue working hard for all fans in providing quality and variety of news, investigative reports, commentaries and entertainment.

On January 2, Bulgaria's largest private TV network, bTV, took off once again its channels from major cable provider Bulsatcom.

The grounds were breach of contract on the part of Bulsatcom by failing to pay dues and quoting a lower than real number of users to reduce fees. The dispute is not settled at the moment and the outcome remains unclear.

The TV first stopped airing its programs for Bulsatcom customers on December 22, but reinstated the transmission two days later, all while stressing this was a temporary measure, just so that viewers can still enjoy the programs during the holidays.

Negotiations failed in the last work day in Bulgaria for 2012 – December 28. bTV insists the cable operator owes them money, while Bulsatcom firmly rejects the claim.

bTV was followed by TV7, which declared they would not be renewing their contract with Bulsatcom on the same grounds. Later, TV7 also decided that it was more important for them to not deprive viewers from their programs and continued the broadcast.

Bulsatcom received support from the 21-member Bulgarian Association of Cable Communication Operators (BACCO), which on December 31 announced it will have to suspend bTV and TV7 from their programs, as their actions constituted a cessation of contract.

The Association also added that bTV's new requirements could result in cable operators being forced to up prices for end users. Representatives of the Association of Telecom Users have argued that the move by bTV and TV7 aims at diverting users from Bulsatcom to Vivacom. However, Vivacom is also a BACCO member.

The Users' Association stated that it had already sent Commissioner Nellie Kroes a letter regarding what they called a "dishonest trade practice" on the part of the TV channels.

In response, bTV also sent a letter of complaint to the European Commission over what it saw as "unfair actions" on part of Bulsatcom.

Currently, bTV and TV7 can be seen non-cable with an antenna and life online.

Bulsatcom promised to assist their customers with installing non-cable antennas. The operator has also started to transmit some new programs and is negotiating to add others.

Bulsatcom scored a significant win in the battle Friday when it was awarded a mobile operator license by the country's Communications Regulation Commission.

Meanwhile, the war brought down prices for cable and digital TV in Bulgaria with competitors of the cable operator offering new packages in an attempt to attract bTV and TV7 fans as customers.

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Tags: Bulsatcom, mobile operator, GSM, satellite operator, cable, bacco, bTV, TV7, Bulsatcom, TV, Nellie Kroes, EU, Vivacom, EC, European Commission


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