Polish operator ITI Neovision has been fined nearly PLN11million ($3.5 million) by the country’s competition and consumer protection authority, UOKiK, for breaking contracts with consumers when it launched the DTH platform nc+.
Part of Poland’s ITI Group, a media conglomerate based in Warsaw, ITI Neovision launched the DTH platform nc+ on March 21 following the merger between its satellite TV operation called n and Cyfra+. The latter was previously owned by Canal + Cyfrowy, which, in turn, is 75-percent owned by the French Groupe Canal +.
But, only a week later, the UOKiK started proceedings following reports from nc+ subscribers that the terms of their contracts had been changed with new pricing, program packaging and contract binding periods imposed without any consultation. The UOKiK has now concluded that ITI Neovision broke the law by unilaterally changing the contracts of previous n customers.
The UOKiK has also criticized ITI Neovision for giving insufficient notice regarding the automatic switch to the nc+ offer. The authority is now insisting that ITI Neovision take measures to ensure that current terms are upheld. It did, however, acknowledge ITI Neovision had already taken steps to redress the situation and that otherwise the fine would have been bigger.
This is the not the first case involving contract related infringements by Polish TV operators. In February 2012, Canal+ Cyfrowy, itself owned by Canal+, was fined about $570,000 by UOKiK for misleading its customers. The UOKiK started proceedings in July 2011 after being made aware of letters sent by the operator to subscribers wishing to terminate their contacts. Canal+ Cyfrowy had insisted in these letters that customers would have to call the company in order to terminate, when, in fact, the Polish rules allow this to be done in writing. The UOKiK deemed that Canal+ Cyfrowy had been unfairly seeking the opportunity to persuade customers to stay by offering them a new better deal over the telephone.