Monday, June 30, 2008

BBC World News - yanked from Amsterdam cable

The city of Amsterdam is trying for another first. It seems that from tomorrow, Amsterdam will be the first European capital city to not have BBC World TV News on the cable network. UPC, which runs the cable system, is going to replace BBC World News with Animal Planet, banning the Beeb to a channel behind its (expensive) digital decoder. Whilst it makes a lot of sense to migrate these kinds of channels behind a set-top box at some point in the future - the penetration of set-top boxes in the Netherlands is way too low at the moment. It is clearly much too early to be messing with the diversity of programmes on offer. As things stand now, most of the hotels in Amsterdam as well as 80% of the population will lose BBC News from cable as from July 1st.

I spoke with the BBC's representative in the Netherlands to find out why we all didn't get any warning of this in advance. But it seems this decision by the cable company UPC has only been taken in the last couple of weeks, as Animal Planet has negotiated national analogue coverage for itself. So we have another global first - an analogue switch off plan that lasts less than a fortnight!

I do hope that protests from the public will be heard once they realise the channel has gone, just like the time 10 years ago when the same cable system tried to take CNN off the cable. How can Amsterdam claim to be a (new) media centre in Europe if it messes around with the media is such a haphazard way? Bonkers!
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