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Cable Europe signs up HBO and Viacom to new content partnership programme

Manuel Kohnstamm

Manuel Kohnstamm

Cable Europe has introduced a new form of associate membership for content providers, with Viacom and HBO Europe the first to join, as part of a move to cooperate more closely with cable marketing organisation CTAM Europe.

Speaking at the Cable Congress press conference this morning, Cable Europe president Manuel Kohnstamm said cable and content providers would work with content providers on technology and on developing common positions in some areas.

“We see there is a natural joint interest between the two sides of the industry in terms of creating added value for our customers,” said Kohnstamm. Asked by DTVE about moves by content providers including HBO into distributing their content direct to consumers, he said: “We may compete in some areas of the market but there is a joint interest in developing the product overall. We have a very rich history in content relations. That is something we want to evolve and develop into the future. I don’t see an natural antagonism between these two areas. There are areas in technology and possible areas of cooperation in policy, for example in copyright regulation.” He said the current European copyright regime sometimes benefits newer technologies by default because established distribution players have to submit to long-established practices.

Speaking about the industry’s performance in general over the past year, Kohnstamm said there had been considerable consolidation, with Vodafone acquiring cable assets and Numericable acquiring SFR. there have also been successful IPOs from Com Hem, Altice and Tele Columbus.

“The argument still goes that the European industry is very fragmented,” said Kohnstamm. “The European industry would still benefit from [further] consolidation.”

Kohnstamm said “this is an industry that thrives on scale and if you want scale, you need to consolidate”. He cited Netflix as an example of a company with scale. “If you have more powerful competitors competing with each other, that is good for consumers,” he said. “Fixed-mobile consolidation will give better opportunities and better services.”

Kohnstamm said European decision makers want to stimulate investment in broadband and a number of companies have announced signficant investment plans, including Telenet and Virgin Media, both members of the Liberty Global group.