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Sweden Refuses to Break Up Digital TV Monopoly

Published tisdag 17 oktober 2006 kl 14.28

The European Commission is taking Sweden to court for failing to get rid of a broadcasting services monopoly.

Sweden was required to adopt an EU law on broadcasting that would have abolished the monopoly held by Boxer TV-Access for the terrestrial digital TV network.

The Commission is objecting to Boxer as the only firm through which broadcasters can gain access to the terrestrial digital network. The services in question include the encryption and decryption of digital signals, and the provision of devices such as decoders, set-top boxes, and smart cards.

Unlike Britain, where the Freeview terrestrial digital network provides a wide selection of channels for free to consumers, under the Swedish system there are only a handful of free channels, virtually all of them from public broadcaster Swedish Television.

The previous Social Democratic government had tried to make terrestrial digital a competitive alternative to digital cable and satellite, but the subscription system for most channels discouraged this. Since most of the channels in question already broadcast commercials, it’s a little hard to see why viewers should be required to also pay a subscription fee, so they can see a channel with advertisements.

It’s uncertain how the new center-right government will treat terrestrial digital since it is perceived as being less friendly to public broadcasting.

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