Belgacom files complaint against Telenet cable deal

BRUSSELS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Belgium's telecom operator Belgacom BCOM.BR said on Saturday it had filed a complaint against the long-term lease of the networks of local cable operators by Belgium's Telenet TNET.BR.

“This deal is not transparent,” said Belgacom spokesman Thierry Bouckaert, adding that the price paid by Telenet was very low and that the agreement threatened competition in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

A Brussels court is expected to rule on the complaint in March, Bouckaert said.

Telenet, the largest broadband cable service provider in Belgium, announced in November a 170 million euro ($251.2 million) deal with local cable operators to use their networks under a long-term lease for a period of 38 years.

Telenet said at the time that the deal meant it would acquire about 800,000 television clients in the region of Flanders or a total annual turnover of approximately 90 million euros.

The agreement has not yet received the green light of all the local cable companies but was expected to be implemented in 2008.

Belgacom, which offers a digital television service which competes with Telenet, said that it could be interested in a similar deal with the local operators and that all options were open at the moment.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus, Editing by Peter Blackburn