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6. Convergence of audio-visual, publishing and telecommunications

6.1. Germany - Public consultation for national telecoms network cost-oriented pricing

On 14 April 1999, almost one year after the publication of a cost model for regulating local network pricing, the German Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Posts presented for public comment a consultative document entitled "An Analytical Cost Model for the National Core Network". This approximately 70-page document establishes the long-term incremental costs of the network infrastructure. It is intended to establish a standard for the setting of charges for unbundled access to networks and to determine the extent to which the rates proposed are based on the cost of efficient service provision. In addition to the cost statements of dominant carriers and the comparative markets concept, this analytical cost model will be used by the regulator to determine prices that are eligible for approval under the German Telecommunications Act (TKG) and the Telecommunications Rates Regulation Ordinance (TEntgV) (both texts are available a t http://www.regtp.de/English.htm). Telecommunications pricing has led to a number of disputes between operators and is already subject to a number of legal rulings.

The consultative document can be downloaded atwww.regtp.de/ekostenmodell/start.htm

6.2. UK - ITC-OFTEL joint consultation on bundling of television and telephony by cable operators

On 20 April 1999, the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL) issued a joint consultation document on the bundling of television and telephony services by cable operators. This consultation resulted from the growing co-operation between regulators on a number of issues in the converging digital environment (such as television and telephony services) which cross traditional regulatory boundaries. This consultation follows on from an earlier ITC investigation into bundling of programme services in the pay-television market (news release available on the ITC web site athttp://www.itc.org.uk/news/news_releases/show_release.asp?article_id=169).

The consultation seeks views on three main issues: market definition (including the question of whether there is a single national market for pay-television services), market power, especially that of the cable operators, and finally the consequences for competition and consumers. Two alleged practices are being investigated : firstly, whether it is anti-competitive to refuse to supply either telephony or television separately where the services are sold as a bundle; and secondly, whether it is anti-competitive to offer telephony and/or television at less than the costs directly attributable to the relevant service. All responses should be submitted to either the ITC or the OFTEL by Tuesday 1 June 1999.

Copies of the joint consultation document are available on the ITC’s web site www.itc.org.uk and the OFTEL web sitewww.oftel.gov.uk

6.3. USA - Satellite -TV bill amendment to settle distant signal eligibility dispute

On 10 March 1999, the Senate Commerce Committee amended the Satellite TV Act, S.303 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c106:S.303.IS:), in order to protect satellite TV subscribers risking the loss of signal reception from distant broadcast network affiliates. Recent litigation between broadcasters and a satellite TV company (CBS Inc. v. PrimeTime 24 Joint Venture, S.D. Fla., Civ. No. 96-3650-CIV-Nesbitt), has resulted in a court ruling ordering satellite companies to cut off distant signals to customers presumably capable of receiving network programming from local broadcasters.

The amendment to the satellite bill would override the court’s decision and allow satellite TV to carry distant network stations in three situations: when there is no local network affiliate; when a local affiliate cannot be received off-air; when satellite TV subscribers located at the fringes of the local market were already receiving those signals in the past. Enforcement of the law is to be entrusted to the Federal Communications Commission. Satellite service providers knowingly providing distant signals to ineligible clients will be fined. The bill also resolves the problem of how satellite television companies can provide their customers with access to local TV stations. Further, it enhances competition between satellite and cable television services.

The amendments can be accessed on the Senate web site athttp://www.senate.gov/~commerce/legis/legis.htm

Press release available athttp://www.senate.gov/~commerce/press/106-30.htm


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