European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes tried personally to alter a European Commission decision on the cable market in the Netherlands, according to sources in Brussels quoted in Wednesday’s Financieele Dagblad.
On Tuesday, telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding approved plans by Dutch telecoms regulator Opta to force four cable companies to open up their networks to competition.
In her statement Reding said there was ‘an unusual lobbying campaign aimed at influencing the outcome of our talks on the subject’.
Sources in Brussels say Reding was referring to a last-minute approach by Kroes to have the Commission refer to ‘serious doubts’ about Opta’s plans, says the Financieele Dagblad.
A spokesman confirmed to the paper that Kroes had personally contacted Reding. The competition commissioner is concerned about the ‘very low penetration’ of digital tv in the Netherlands which she fears will be further delayed if cable companies are forced to open their networks, the spokesman said.
Last summer Opta said it wanted to make cable companies give cable access to their competitors so that households have a greater choice of analogue tv provider. Cable firms have ‘a high market share’ and the arrival of Digitenne, satellite and other new providers have ‘not led to more choice’, Opta said at the time.
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