Thursday, October 13, 2005

Business as unusual

The Malone cable machine announces something nearly every day now, it seems. This morning, hot on the heels of the Cablecom acquisition, we learned that Liberty Global would be raising its stake in Telenet to 20%, and there were reports out of Scandinavia that UPC Norway and Sweden are on the block. Then a strange thing happened: I got word that UPC Netherlands apparently released a press release today (at this point not on their site) in which it walked away from its previously stated digital migration strategy - namely to migrate its entire 2.3m subscriber base to digital services by the end of 2006. Previous reports out of the Dutch media indicated that this would result in all UPC subs paying an extra EUR3 per month for digital services, for a total of around EUR18.53 per month. I am now told that the company aims to migrate only those who want digital, charging EUR17.99, and is now expecting only 1m digital converts over the next two years. So, they've dropped pricing, presumably cut way back on the subsidy for decoders and lowered their target for migration drastically, and I'm wondering what's happening here. Is this related to the recent capital outlays in Japan, Belgium and Switzerland, or is it simply in response to the groundswell of negative press coverage and political attention which the company has received (as documented here on countless occasions)?

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