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Brussels, 11th April 2006

Competition: Commission requests Hungary to abolish restrictions on cable TV services

The European Commission has formally requested Hungary to abolish the restriction imposed by the Hungarian Media Act on the provision of cable TV services in violation of EU competition rules. The Commission’s request takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If Hungary fails to comply within two months of receipt, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: Hungary is depriving cable operators of their right to provide broadcasting transmission services wherever they see fit. This restricts competition both among cable operators and between infrastructures to the detriment of consumer choice.”

Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services aims at ensuring that competitive market conditions prevail across the European Union. According to the Directive, Member States shall ensure that no restrictions are imposed or maintained on the provision of electronic communications services, including broadcasting transmission services.

However, the Hungarian Media Act limits the rights of cable operators to provide broadcasting transmission services in Hungary to a territory covering not more than one third of the population. This is in contravention of the Directive.

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