22.08.2018

Schalast represents Fachverband für Rundfunk- und BreitbandKommunikation in proceedings against ARD and ZDF as well as in merger control proceedings in Unitymedia and Vodafone case

Both issues have been making headlines in the press: ARD, ZDF, Unitymedia and Vodafone (at least to a large extent) initially agreed (after years of dispute through all instances) on the payment of feed-in fees and the distribution of programmes of public broadcasters in media libraries. The acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone was then announced. The cable industry is currently being shaken up and the Fachverband für Rundfunk- und BreitbandKommunikation (the professional association for broadcasting and broadband communication – FRK) is right in the middle as a representative of small and medium-sized cable network operators.

In view of the settlements reached between ARD, ZDF, Unitymedia und Vodafone, the commercial law firm Schalast has on behalf of the FRK requested the two public broadcasters ARD and ZDF to treat the FRK and its members in the same way as the two dominant cable network operators Unitymedia and Vodafone. The settlements provide for ARD and ZDF to pay these two companies so-called feed-in fees for the feed-in of their programmes. A practice against which the two public broadcasters have resisted for a long time and are now (partly) implementing.

Since the FRK's request for equal treatment was rejected by both ARD and ZDF, Schalast called in the Bundeskartellamt (German Federal Cartel Office) on 21 August 2018 to review the unequal treatment.

In addition, Schalast also submitted requests to the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office for hearings and for FRK to be summoned to participate in the Unitymedia/Vodafone merger proceedings as an interested third party. The FRK is concerned that this merger which have a considerable impact on the cable market and FRK's members as the market will ultimately become a extremely monopolistic market after the concentration. The FRK fears that the increased market power resulting from this will be accompanied by even greater unequal treatment of small and medium-sized cable network operators.