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NMa: cable companies did not infringe Competition Act

Following a complaint submitted by KPN, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has ruled that cable television companies UPC, Essent Kabelcom and Casema Multikabel (formerly Essent, Casema and Multikabel) cannot be found guilty of infringements of the Competition Act. 'We have found no indications of cable companies abusing a dominant position', comments René Jansen, Member of the Board of the NMa.

KPN argued that each of the cable companies was taking up a dominant position and had abused this position through the tied selling of analogue and digital packages for radio and television. As a result, these services could not be purchased separately. Also, KPN stated that the cable companies had been engaged in excessive pricing and had benefited from cross subsidisation between analogue and digital packages. Lastly, KPN contested the cable companies' refusal to allow KPN access to the cable networks.

According to the NMa, bundling packages for analogue and digital radio and television is not at issue here, as digital and analogue basic packages belong to the same product market. Therefore, a dominant position through tied selling may be ruled out. On the basis of a cost analysis, the NMa has also concluded that the package prices employed by the cable companies at any rate cover relevant costs and thereby do not involve excessive pricing or illegal cross subsidisation. As to these points, the NMa dismisses the KPN complaint.

As regards the final issue brought up by KPN, i.e. the cable companies' refusal to grant access to KPN, the NMa does not consider it expedient on the basis of the Competition Act to mount an in-depth investigation. Currently, the Independent Postal and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) is once again conducting an investigation into markets in the broadcasting sector.

The media and communications markets have been designated an area of priority by the NMa. The NMa closely collaborates with the OPTA in supervising these markets.