Following the uproar caused by the announcement that A1 cable provider would drop N1 television and Sport Klub channels from its programming package, A1 began a campaign of deception against citizens. By spreading false information, A1 is now trying to convince its existing users that they would have been forced to pay increased subscription fees if A1 had continued to carry channels produced by United Media (UM).
It is incomprehensible that A1 is insulting the intelligence of its own subscribers this way, since United Media had publicly stated that A1 had been offered to continue the arrangement already in place, under the same conditions and the same price as all the years before. So the continued distribution of N1 and Sport Klub shouldn’t have increased subscription price by a single kuna for any existing A1 users..
We had also offered to publicize all the documents related to the negotiations, because it was clear that although A1 was negotiating, they had no intentions to strike a deal.
After they had rejected our unchanged asking price for 15 United Media channels – demanding that the price is cut in half – A1 came back to ask a new offer which involved distributing only three of our channels. After we gave them the new offer, they called it inadequate, and decided to shut off all of our channels.
The rules of doing business are such that when the entire package is offered, the buyer gets it at a discounted rate compared to prices of individual products. This is how any market works, and piecemeal information do not represent the full truth.
The fact is, at least as far as our offer is concerned, that A1 didn’t have a single reason to make the decision they made and drop N1 and Sport Klub. Now that the public wants an explanation on why they won’t be able to follow top sports events and watch N1 news programming, they owe giving some answers – but only using truth instead of shifting the blame to us.
We are also currently negotiating continuing cooperation with Hrvatski Telekom (HT), who were also offered the same conditions and the same price that they had years back. To our surprise, HT too replied that the offer is “inadequate,” so it remains to be seen whether they will keep United Media channels in their package.
Since N1 is the best watched cable news channel, and Sport Klub has improved its programming offer from last year with Formula 1 races and German football league Bundesliga matches, it remains unclear based on what criteria would both cable providers try to force United Media to drastically cut its price. All the most exclusive sports programming from England’s Premier League matches to Formula 1 races belong to some of the most expensive rights in broadcasting, and since the prices we pay for them haven’t been reduced, it is not possible for us to do it either.
This is all well known to providers in Croatia. We want to believe that there is no some sort of a cartel agreement to pressure United media, because in the past there were cases such as pushing out Discovery and Eurosport channels from the market. That experience showed that when these two providers in Croatia join forces and agree on the treatment of some channels that there are no options left for them to work or operate.
Since we are convinced of the high quality of the programming that we have been offering at the same price for year, we wish to inform citizens of Croatia that we will not yield to attempts to push us out of the market. We are convinced of their indisputable support which they show to us on a daily basis, first and foremost by watching our channels.
(Operating in Croatia as part of United Group are the telecom operator Telemach Hrvatska, as well as television channels and websites Sport Klub and N1, Nova TV, Doma TV, and Dnevnik.hr.)