Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Coaxial backlash

Via a super-value reader, this interesting article appeared in today's Trouw newspaper in the Netherlands. In it the author concludes that the Dutch business (UPC) of John Malone's UnitedGlobalCom generated EUR200m in free cash in 2004, which he works out to be EUR7 per household per month, for a margin of 57% on the average subscription pre-VAT. The article goes on to quote a UGC spokesperson as saying that excess cash being generated by UPC in the Netherlands will fund acquisitions abroad, particularly in Europe. It's difficult to get too much of the nuance from the machine translation I have in front of me, but there is a pretty clear connection drawn between the price hikes of up to 50% for some homes, and the ambitions of "the American cable king" abroad. I get the sense that the message is "the Dutch consumer is subsidizing a foreign mogul to complete an empire." That's what capitalism is all about, but I think we're increasingly getting into murky water where the Dutch internet infrastructure is concerned. Is it any wonder that we see such euphoria when muni-fiber comes into the picture?

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