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IN SHORTS

UPC cable in deeper trouble

ANOTHER government regulator has launched proceedings against cable operator UPC.

Slovakia's Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission, the broadcast licensing and regulatory body, has initiated action against UPC and its subsidiaries Trnavatel and Kábel Plus Východné Slovensko for unsettled copyrights with the Slovak Copyright Association (SOZA).

The council has until July 16 to decide whether or not to withdraw registration for the companies. If registration is withdrawn, UPC will have to halt operations and a different company will be eligible to operate the nation's cable network.

UPC has successfully avoided government punishment related to price increases from January 2001, when some UPC customers saw their bills jump by 40 per cent, violating Telecoms Office (TÚ) rules that stipulated maximum rate increases at the level of inflation, or 12 per cent at the time.

Although UPC challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court last summer, the appeal was dropped in January, meaning UPC had in theory agreed both to lower prices and to refund customers the amount of the overcharge.

However, TÚ officials say that the company has neither lowered prices nor given refunds.

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