French telecoms protest VOD deal

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PARIS -- French telecommunications operators Free and Neuf Cegetel have joined forces to protest a new VOD deal between rival operator Orange and public TV group France Televisions.

The companies sent letters to national TV regulator the CSA, France Televisions and new Cultural Minister Christine Albanel complaining about the exclusive deal announced July 3.

The new multiyear VOD partnership gives Orange subscribers TV, Internet and mobile access to programs from the France Televisions Group channels for up to 30 days after their original broadcast.

"We ask to have the right to broadcast video-on-demand programs in the same conditions as those granted to France Telecom," Free director general Maxime Lombardini said in a letter.

Added Neuf Cegetel president Jacques Veyrat: "If it were to be officially confirmed, this partnership would represent a serious blow to the public service mission of France Televisions."

The CSA has not yet announced a decision to pursue the matter.
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