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Broadband TV News | Central and East Europe
March 24, 2006
Editor: Chris Dziadul
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Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe
Editor: Chris Dziadul (Click to Email)
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TV Conferences: TV Revenue 2006

New revenue opportunities are the lifeblood of broadcasting strategic development. The expanding landscape of content distribution is changing viewing habits dramatically. The conference programme is designed to explain how and why viewing behaviour is changing and explores new revenue opportunities.

Speakers include: David Elstein, Chairman, Sparrowhawk Media, Prof. Peter Cochrane OBE, Co-founder, Conceptlabs, Dr David Lewis, Author, Soul of the New Consumer, Mike Short, Vice President – Technology, O2, Ray Derenzo, Vice President, International Business Development, MobiTV and Richard Burrell, Director of Engineering and New Media, QVC UK.

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TPSA/Canal+ IPTV deal
The incumbent Polish telco TPSA has entered into an agreement with Canal+ Cyfrowy to develop what will be the country’s first IP-delivered triple-play platform. Tests involving 200 households are to shortly get under way in Warsaw, with a full launch expected later this year. France Télécom-backed TPSA first mooted the platform, which will be available nationally, employ MPEG-4 compression and offer such additional services as VOD, two years ago. It will face competition from a rival IPTV platform operated by ATM Grupa, Poland’s leading independent production company, and Telefonia Dialog, its second largest telco, which is also expected to make its debut later this year.

Russian market projections
Leonid Reiman, the Russian minister for IT and communications, has predicted that the sector will account for 10% of the country’s GDP by 2010. At the same time, Internet penetration should triple to 45% and PC ownership more than quadruple to 43%. Leonid also announced that the IT and communications sector in Russia was worth R308.3 billion (€9.21 billion) in 2005, or 20.2% more than a year earlier, while revenues from the electronic communications sector amounted to R668 billion, or 32% more than in 2004. The mobile market was meanwhile worth R305 billion in 2005. Separately, local reports indicate that the cost of making VoIP calls within and from Russia is to rise by at least a third. The reason given for this is the recent introduction of a new rule that require telcos to sign access agreements with large players such as Rostelecom and MTT until they, too, have networks that cover the whole of Russia. The VoIP market in Russia was worth some $260 million (€215.8 million) in 2005.

Czech ADSL take-up grows
The incumbent Czech telco Cesky Telecom has said that it secured a record 10,000 new ADSL connections in the 11th week of this year after substantially increasing connection speeds. Cesky Telecom accounts for the lion’s share of ADSL connections in the Czech Republic, which according to the Telefónica-backed company has now reached 330,000. In a separate development, a local report says that TV Nova’s ad revenue could be down by as much as 10% in this quarter. The reason for the fall is apparently a controversial 25% increase in the cost of advertising that the CME-owned station imposed at the beginning of the year. TV Nova currently accounts for around 65% of a TV ad market that according to ARBOmedia was worth CZ8.52 billion (€297.3 million) in 2005. Its share could go even higher once commercials on publicly owned Czech Television (CT) are completely phased out by 2008.

NTV-Plus ups Eutelsat capacity
The Russian digital DTH platform NTV-Plus has increased its capacity on Eutelsat’s W4 from six to eight transponders following an agreement with the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC), a long-standing partner of the Paris-based satellite operator. The move should help the platform expand its already comprehensive offer by up to 20 channels. NTV-Plus currently claims around 450,000 subscribers and recently extended its reach to Ukraine. It should also be available in Armenia, Georgia and eastern Russia by the end of this year, when its subscriber total is expected to have risen to 560,000. Earlier this month the platform added three more services – NTV-Plus Tennis, NTV-Plus Sport Classic and Nash Football – to its growing portfolio of proprietary thematic channels.

HRT tops rating stakes
A ratings poll of 26 European public broadcasters conducted by Poland’s TVP has shown that Croatia’s HRT ranked the highest with 54%, followed by TVP (51.2%) and Austria’s ORF (50%). Surprisingly, France Televisions and the BBC were well down the list in 13th and 14th positions respectively. Separately, all parliamentary proceedings in Slovenia are to be broadcast by the public broadcaster RTV Slo via Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 3, thereby reaching up to 60% of the country’s homes, from April 4 until the establishment of a parliamentary TV channel. The latter is a requirement of a broadcast law that came into effect last November.

RTS transformation draws nearer
According to Serbia’s culture and media minister Dragan Kojadinovic, the state broadcaster RTS will complete its transformation into a public service on April 30. At the same time, the state will write off CSD27 million (€310,450) of its CSD55 million debt. RTS has already announced that it will close its third channel RTS3 on May 1. RTS, along with Radio Television of Montenegro (UJRT), have meanwhile officially told the EBU that they will not participate in the upcoming 51st Eurovision Song Contest in Athens after failing to mutually agree on a contestant to represent them. As a direct result, Croatia has automatically qualified for the final.

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German private broadcasters look to DTT
Around 10 private broadcasters and the media authorities of central Germany (Mitteldeutschen Landesmedienanstalten - MLA) have entered into talks to have them join the DTT platform serving the cities of Leipzig, Halle, Erfurt and Weimar. Subscription Only. Click Here for details
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DATA: European Digital Satellite Platforms
MHP licensing row escalates: “MHP or nothing”
Vectra and Multimedia Polska mega-merger
MTG to pull channels from Com Hem
Austria switches on IPTV
Content providers put brakes on Fastweb
UPC reports digital progress in Holland
Telenet reports record year
OpenTV in the black for first time
UK holds digital crown
Astra shakes German market
Entriq to power ProSiebenSat.1 VOD portal
BBC output for Telewest HD
DMB set for May launch in Germany
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Nova inks DreamWorks deal
According to a local report, the Czech Republic’s TV Nova has signed an agreement with DreamWorks giving it access to between 30-40 movies including Shrek 2. Although no exact financial details were given, TV Nova’s programming director David Stogel said the deal was worth more than CZK10 million (€350,000).

Paprika looks to new markets
The Hungarian cookery channel TV Paprika is reported to be interested in establishing a presence throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Launched in 2004, TV Paprika is a subsidiary of Hungary’s FilmMúzeum, which also operates a film channel, and is currently available in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. According to AGB Nielsen, the service is watched by up to 1.3 million people in Hungary, while in the Czech Republic and Slovakia it has some 500,000 viewers. The DTH platform UPC Direct distributes TV Paprika in all three countries.

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KRRiT position in doubt
The Constitutional Court in Poland has ruled that certain aspects of current media legislation are unconstitutional. As a result, Elzbieta Kruk, who was recently appointed the head of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) by the country’s president, may have to vacate the post.

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Chris Dziadul

Chris Dziadul Reports

Eastward bound

Chris Dziadul looks at RTL Group’s plans for the region

Earlier this week Germany’s Bertelsmann published its 2005 annual report, one of the highlights of which was a 4.8% increase in RTL Group’s revenues to €5.1 billion. The TV, radio and production company also saw its operating result rise by 13.2% to €756 million, while return on sales was up to 14.8%.
These are heady times indeed for RTL Group, and no more so than in Central and Eastern Europe, where its TV interests now encompass Hungary’s RTL Klub (44.12%), RTL Croatia (59.04%) and – since last year –– Russia’s Ren TV (27.13%). The focus of its international attention may currently be on the UK, where it holds a 90.13% in Channel Five Broadcasting Ltd, but markets to the east of Germany are never off the company’s radar screen.
Which is why there is mounting speculation in Central and Eastern Europe as to RTL Group’s future plans for the region. Speaking to the German press, RTL Group’s CEO Gerhard Zeiler has confirmed that it is looking to enter new markets, and it appears these include Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia.
Poland, too, may be on the agenda, especially given the fact that the company has not had a presence in the country since selling the satellite delivered channel RTL 7 – now known as TVN 7 – to ITI Group several years ago.
Given the already crowded nature of the market in Poland, RTL Group would almost certainly look to buy into an existing broadcaster rather than launch its own station. It is also unlikely to spend as much money as on Russia’s Ren TV, either in Poland or any other new market, having some €267 million in cash at its disposal for further acquisitions.
With CME having announced earlier this month that it plans to raise up to $150 million (€124.5 million) through a share issue, a further round of industry acquisitions by leading foreign investors could be round the corner.

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