Cable television distribution service (TV Cabo Portugal) Information to consumers

In the last few weeks this Authority has received many information requests concerning the provision of the cable television distribution service by CATVP - TV Cabo Portugal, S.A. (“TV Cabo”), which are based on an “open letter” format of information circulating on the Internet.

Further to hearing TV Cabo on this matter and also considering the applying legislation, we hereby clarify the following:

(1) Cable television distribution service is currently regulated by Law no. 5/2004 of 10 February (Electronic Communications Law), which expressly revoked Decree-Law no. 241/97 of 18 September.

(2) The fulfilment of the consumer’s protection objective that is a responsibility of ANACOM is made through regulatory measures, both by imposing obligations to companies, on the situations foreseen by law, and with the conformity of the activation contracts and their corresponding analysis for approval, made on a case by case basis (no. 4 of article 39 of the said Electronic Communications Law). It is therefore mainly an ex ante action. ANACOM ’s activity does not aim to solve each existing case of consumer dispute, but rather to regulate the sector, having in mind the consumers’ interests. Should a dispute arise, consumers should address the Instituto do Consumidor (the Consumers’ Institute), the dispute mediation and settlement centres or the Courts.

(3) Regarding the update of the digital television advanced equipment’s software, two different types of regular update are made. One of them does not imply any break or change in the service, while the other does imply a temporary constraint to the use of the service, only made at the consumer’s consent.

(4) Regarding the unilateral change of the set of program services provided by TV Cabo not respecting the deadline set in the contract regarding previous warnings of such changes, this Authority’s competence is limited to the approval of the general conditions practiced by the service provider.

By determination of 1 September 2005, ANACOM approved the general guidelines regarding the minimum content to be included in the contracts for the provision of electronic communications services. According to this document, the regime applying to changes to the general contractual conditions regarding the provision of cable television distribution services must be expressly regulated, and it must contain the minimum anticipation period for notification to the subscriber of the changes to the contract, the form of such notification and the subscriber’s right to terminate the contract based on the its change without any associated penalty.

Later on, a determination of 28 November 2005 approved the current text of the general contract clauses practiced by TV Cabo for the provision of the television and broadband Internet services. According to its section 3.6, “TV Cabo may change […] any conditions for the provision of the service, including the composition of the television service that it provides, in an adequate way […] 30 days before the new […] conditions enter into force, these conditions being considered as accepted by the customer if they do not request the corresponding disconnection or deactivation, at least 15 days beforehand […]”. I.e., the approved general contract clauses practiced by TV Cabo are in line with the regime of the mentioned guidelines. However, all questions related with the compliance or non compliance with these general contractual clauses are outside the set of ANACOM ’s competencies and it does not have any role in the resolution of conflicts of such a nature.

(5) Regarding the coding of some of the channels belonging to TV Cabo’s basic service, the operator informed that, among the set of program services which transmission was limited, some were encoded or suspended at the source, while the remainders were suspended by TV Cabo itself in order to protect the rights of third parties, namely copyright and associated rights. Considering that, within this scope, the rules governing this activity are not under the framework of the Electronic Communications Law, ANACOM is not the competent entity for its assessment.