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CNN Leaving Dutch TV Screens

August 20, 1998

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Cable News Network said Thursday it will pull out of Amsterdam next week because of a fee dispute, making the Dutch capital the only major European city without its round-the-clock coverage.

In a statement, CNN International harshly criticized a demand from Amsterdam’s A2000 cable network requiring a 700,000 guilder ($350,000) a year fee and said it would refuse to pay.

``The conditions for renewal imposed by A2000 are so disproportionate with those negotiated with every other cable and satellite platform operator anywhere in the world that we had no option but to withdraw,″ said Phil Kent, president of Turner Broadcasting System International.

With its decision to pull the plug in Amsterdam on Aug. 25, CNN follows music channel MTV Europe, Eurosport and The Discovery Channel, all of which have gone off the air for the same reasons.

Calls to A2000 went unanswered Thursday evening.

TBS Europe spokesman Matthijs Spits said his office in The Hague was deluged with calls from irate viewers.

CNN ``doesn’t pay a dime, not even a nickel or a penny″ to cable operators elsewhere in the Netherlands, Spits said, and has no Dutch revenue to offset what it considers an exorbitant cable user fee.

It was not immediately clear whether Amsterdam’s mayor or city council would intervene in any way. CNN has become popular in the Netherlands and is widely watched both by the Dutch and foreign visitors, and its loss could potentially deal a serious blow to the hotel industry.

``After 10 years of distributing CNN’s very popular international service in Amsterdam, it sorrows us that we have to take this decision,″ said Mathieu Nagelkerke, vice president of channel operations for TBS Netherlands.

CNN will continue to be available via satellite in Amsterdam, but because it and other popular channels traditionally were offered on basic cable menus, relatively few people in the capital have reception dishes.

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