German cable operator Unitymedia will perform several changes to its TV and radio line-up including a controversial move on January 22, 2019.
Regional channel Radio Bremen TV HD and educational channel ARD-alpha HD will join Unitymedia’s cable network, the two last channels from public broadcaster ARD launching in HD quality.
In federal state Baden-Württemberg, financial news channel CNBC will be added to the line-up.
However, the Deutschlandfunk radio channels operated by national public German broadcaster Deutschlandradio will be removed from the cable network. According to a Unitymedia spokesman, Deutschlandradio cancelled its carriage contract with Unitymedia effective December 31, 2018 and declined the cable company’s offer to enter negotiations regarding a new distribution agreement. He stressed that Unitymedia would be prepared to conclude a new contract any time if the broadcaster was interested in gaining cable carriage again.
Broadband TV News understands that the contract cancellation is based on a dispute regarding carriage fees. However, the removal of Deutschlandradio’s channels could be legally problematic as the broadcaster is financed by the public licence fee and has a public service obligation from which must-carry status could be derived.
As a result, Deutschlandradio could legally challenge the exclusion from Unitymedia’s cable network and demand the channels’ reintroduction.
Deutschlandradio did not comment on the subject when contacted by Broadband TV News.