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KPN sensitive to news channel protest

13 December 2006 – Local news channel At5 may lose 9 to 10% of its viewers because KPN’s digital TV provider Digitenne intends to stop carrying the channel next Friday. KPN seems to be sensitive to the protests against this decision and says to be seeking a solution, but At5 director John de Zwart has not heard from them yet. He wants to approach Parliament as well.

The local channel has received 1,600 protest mails through its website, estimated to represent almost 5% of Digitenne subscribers. De Zwart says that KPN called him last week to tell him “the more fuss you make, the smaller the chances of a solution”. Since that he has not heard from the company.

However, KPN representative Bram Oudshoorn says that the company is sensitive to the protests and that it is trying to find a solution. Asked whether people have cancelled their subscriptions, he responds: “I won’t say. It could be”.

Judging by the messages sent through the At5 website, this is indeed happening. “It hurts: but I return to [cable TV provider] UPC. I find At5 an important source of information for an Amsterdammer”, one person writes. “Even the fact that I work at KPN does not keep me from cancelling my Digitenne subsription”.

At present, KPN cannot say what a solution might look like. In the media, there are speculations about transmitting At5 after 8 pm through the Nickelodeon children’s channel. De Zwart is not really interested, because At5 draws most of its viewers between 6 and 7 pm.

By now, At5 not only targets KPN, but also Parliament. Digitenne has to carry public television channels free of charge. At present, this includes regional channels, but not local channel At5. De Zwart finds that everybody should be able to watch At5 free of charge.

The At5 director fears that losing the Digitenne watchers will lead to lower advertisement income, which may force the channel to cut jobs. “We already have advertisers saying: I have Digitenne myself”.

UPDATE 14 December 2006 - Today At5 announced that KPN has promised to keep carrying the channel at least until the end of the year.


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