bTV Complains to EC over Dispute with Cable Operator

Business | December 29, 2012, Saturday // 11:49

Bulgaria's largest private TV network, bTV, has sent a letter of complaint to the European Commission over what it sees as "unfair actions" on part of Bulgarian cable TV operator Bulsatcom.

The recently erupted dispute between major Bulgarian TV network bTV and cable operators was already referred to EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Nellie Kroes by Bulgarian users.

"By boycotting cable network providers, bTV and TV7 have colluded in a cartel agreement with ulterior motives," the Bulgarian Association of Telecommunication and Internet Services Users stated on December 23, 2012.

Starting December 22, both bTV and TV7 took off their channels from major cable provider Bulsatcom, citing breach of contract by failing to pay dues and quoting a lower than real number of users to reduce fees.

In response the 21-member Bulgarian Association of Cable Communication Operators (BACCO) 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.

Bulsatcom stated it has no overdue payments to bTV. The TV network said that its channels will temporarily continue to be shown on cable through January 2 due to the holidays.

New contracts between BACCO members and bTV for 2013 are yet to be negotiated.

bTV Media Group announced late Friday night it failed to hammer out a deal with Bulsatcom, and keeps up its claim that the latter still owes it money for the distribution of its channels.

bTV further warned the Bulgarian viewers that as of January 1, 2013, its programs will be unavailable to Bulsatcom subscribers.

"bTV is the subject of outright discrimination by Bulsatcom, which refuses to show its channels in spite of the much better conditions that bTV offers in comparison with other Bulgarian TV channels," reads the official statement of bTV.

Its statement further cites an independent market study which concludes that Bulsatcom is hiding the fact that it has a higher a number of subscribers than it has formally declared.

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