Expatica news

Investigation into digital television products

5 August 2005

BRUSSELS — The federal government’s consumer protection department has been investigating the digital television services of Belgacom and Telenet since June.

The investigation was commissioned by Consumer Affairs Minister Freya van den Bossche and the findings are expected in the next few weeks, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Friday.

Van den Bossche launched the inquiry after sharp criticism was directed at the manner in which both Belgacom and Telenet are launching their digital television services.

The investigation into Telenet’s practices focus on the fact the firm will reduce its classic (analogue) services by eight channels for existing subscribers without a corresponding fall in price.

The eight channels will disappear behind the digital decoder when Telenet launches its digital service next month.

The investigation into Belgacom — which launched its digital television service at the end of June — is linked to recent criticism from Test-Aankoop.

The consumer watchdog authority claims Belgacom is operating in breach of trade laws because it has been signing up customers since the end of June without revealing the price of its digital television service.
The price for watching Belgian soccer matches — which Belgacom will start broadcasting for the first time on Friday night — is already fixed.

However, the price of the company’s basic digital television subscription — which is free until 30 September — is yet to be determined.

Consequently, Test-Aankoop has warned that subscribers are signing a blank cheque because subscriptions are for a period of one year.

Both companies have dismissed the respective criticism, but the federal government’s investigation is continuing and is expected to be completed in September.

“After examining the dossier, the minister may intervene [in the sector] if that appears necessary,” a government consumer affairs spokesman said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news