The European Commission is demanding that telcos with cable interests run them as separate concerns - a move that could affect BT's planned broadcasting initiative.
The ruling is aimed at national operators that also have significant cable operations. In a draft directive, EC officials want suppliers to legally separate cable operations from telecomms ventures. ?The current accounting separation is obviously not sufficient,? said a spokesperson.
He said the measure would be to prevent former telecomms monopolies from becoming future supermonopolies. The Commission could even force certain telcos to abandon their cable activities.
In the UK, BT is prevented from broadcasting material using its copper wire technology but it is establishing a multimedia initiative called British Interactive Broadcasting (BIB). This is jointly owned by BT, BSkyB, Midland Bank and Matsushita Electric to provide entertainment and home shopping.
The initiative is being investigated by the EC but the Commission spokesman would not comment on whether BIB would give BT too much power. A BIB spokesperson said the service would not fall foul of EC or other competition regulation because BT is not using its traditional telephone lines to broadcast information. Instead the broadcast media used will be based on digital satellites.
However, BT?s current cable operations in Westminister and Milton Keynes could be taken to task by the EC.
The EC is calling for comments on the draft directive.
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