Dutch parliament orders cable firms to open networks to competition

The Dutch parliament is expected to order cable companies to open their networks to competition, but it is unclear whether or not the country's government can draft the idea into law, a report from the Associated Press said.

Cable television is dominant in the densely populated Netherlands, with more than 90% of households having cable TV subscriptions.

The report said the country's two largest political parties, the ruling conservative Christian Democrats and the left opposition Labor, had joined to support the resolution, giving it a large majority in parliament.

'If you open cable up to competition, then the prices will fall and service will be better,' Labor lawmaker Martijn van Dam told state broadcaster NOS before the vote.

The government had advised against adopting the resolution, saying it was too sweeping and would violate European rules, the report said.

The resolution essentially ordered all cable companies to legally split their broadcasting arms from their network arms, and let other broadcasters use their networks on equal terms, Economic Affairs Ministry spokesman Ruud Stevens was quoted as saying.

The report said that the way the resolution was worded, even small cable companies would have to open their networks to competition - a result he called 'financially undesirable and practically impossible.'

The Dutch cable industry association Vecai said it would appeal to European courts if the new resolution is drafted into law, according to the report.