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Today β€” July 22nd 2019Telecom

European pay TV market to grow 8.4% till 2023

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

According to Dataxis, the European pay TV market is expected to gain 17.7 million subscribers between 2019 and 2023, which represents a 8.4% growth.

It should amount to almost 230 million subscribers in 2023. This global growth will be driven by IPTV (+13.1 million subscribers) and OTT (+6.6m), while cable TV should lose 4.6 million subscribers.

Boost for Estonian cable subscribers

By Chris Dziadul

All services from Estonia’s leading cable operator Elisa can now be received via a national fibre network operated by Elektrilevi.

These include its most advanced TV offer and broadband internet access of up to 1Gbps.

Elisa recommends that its customers should check Elektrilevi’ s site to see when the network which reach their address.

Elektrilevi is the largest network operator in Estonia and manages approximately 60,000km of power lines and 24,000 substations.

It plans its high-speed fibre network to reach 200,000 homes and companies that do not currently have a high-quality internet connection within the next five years.

Elektrilevi currently charges a one-off fee of €199 for connecting to its network.

Tricolor unveils OTT plans

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian DTH platform operator Tricolor plans to launch its own OTT service this October.

Speaking at a press conference late last week and quoted by Kommersant, its deputy DG for strategic and operational marketing Andrei Nesterov said that the service plans to be one of the top three in the country within the next three years.

He added that this would not be difficult, given Tricolor’s client base. The company currently has 12.232 million customers and the new service is being tested on 10,000.

Although Nesterov did not disclose the cost of setting up the new service or the funding model it will use, he revealed that it could consider using more than one of the latter.

In addition, he said that the service would be made available to non-Tricolor customers.

Nesterov also said that Tricolor is currently negotiating with key filmmakers about making its own series.

Tricolor unveils OTT plans

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian DTH platform operator Tricolor plans to launch its own OTT service this October.

Speaking at a press conference late last week and quoted by Kommersant, its deputy DG for strategic and operational marketing Andrei Nesterov said that the service plans to be one of the top three in the country within the next three years.

He added that this would not be difficult, given Tricolor’s client base. The company currently has 12.232 million customers and the new service is being tested on 10,000.

Although Nesterov did not disclose the cost of setting up the new service or the funding model it will use, he revealed that it could consider using more than one of the latter.

In addition, he said that the service would be made available to non-Tricolor customers.

Nesterov also said that Tricolor is currently negotiating with key filmmakers about making its own series.

Before yesterdayTelecom

Deutsche Telekom, industry associations consider legal action against EU approval of Vodafone/Unitymedia merger

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Deutsche Telekom and several industry associations are considering taking legal action against the European Commission’s decision to approve Vodafone’s acquisition of German cable operator Unitymedia.

“We will closely analyse the decision of the competition authority and then decide whether a review in court is necessary to protect competition,” a Telekom spokesman told Broadband TV News. “We are convinced that the concessions are not sufficient to counter the negative effects in the area of media and content diversity.”

German commercial broadcaster association VAUNET also wants to “look at the decision in detail and evaluate further steps.” The EU Commission was cementing Vodafone’s “quasi-monopoly” in the German cable market, which would then possess around 80% of cable subscriptions, according to a statement. It would, thus, be easy for Vodafone to dictate the conditions for the distribution, packaging, accessibility and visibility of content.

German cable operator association FRK will also have the EU decision juridically examined and, if necessary, take legal action against it together with other industry associations. “The now manifested duopoly of Vodafone and Telekom with its concentrated power will threaten the existence of small and medium sized players in unequal competition,” warns FRK chairman Heinz-Peter Labonte. At the same time, this would “herald the end of the nationwide deployment of fibre-optic networks, which has been driven by medium-sized cable operators, municipal utilities and regional providers.”

According to German fibre-optic cable operator association BREKO, the merger will lead to “a considerable restriction of competition – and thus to disadvantages for citizens and companies.” As examples, the association cites the market for contracts with the housing industry to supply end customers with cable services, which Vodafone would dominate with a market share of around 75%, and the fibre-optic market, in which regional and medium-sized companies would hardly have a chance, while Vodafone itself could withdraw from the rollout of fibre-optic networks, as it could just rely on is cable network in future.

Tele Columbus also fears that the “re-monopolisation of the cable market” could weaken competition in the supply of the housing market and lead to rising infrastructure and media provision costs for housing companies at the expense of tenants. In addition, fibre-optic deployments could be slowed down due to the merged company’s unwillingness to invest, a spokesman of the German cable operator told Broadband TV News.

German cable service association DNMG also warns of the negative effects of the merger. Vodafone’s concessions “are in no way suitable to secure competition for content, infrastructure and services,” DNMG managing director Ingo Schuchert told Broadband TV News. This would come at the expense of medium-sized businesses, end-customers and infrastructure deployment.

On July 18, 2019, the EU Commission announced its decision to approve the acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone subject to conditions.

Deutsche Telekom, industry associations consider legal action against EU approval of Vodafone/Unitymedia merger

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Deutsche Telekom and several industry associations are considering taking legal action against the European Commission’s decision to approve Vodafone’s acquisition of German cable operator Unitymedia.

“We will closely analyse the decision of the competition authority and then decide whether a review in court is necessary to protect competition,” a Telekom spokesman told Broadband TV News. “We are convinced that the concessions are not sufficient to counter the negative effects in the area of media and content diversity.”

German commercial broadcaster association VAUNET also wants to “look at the decision in detail and evaluate further steps.” The EU Commission was cementing Vodafone’s “quasi-monopoly” in the German cable market, which would then possess around 80% of cable subscriptions, according to a statement. It would, thus, be easy for Vodafone to dictate the conditions for the distribution, packaging, accessibility and visibility of content.

German cable operator association FRK will also have the EU decision juridically examined and, if necessary, take legal action against it together with other industry associations. “The now manifested duopoly of Vodafone and Telekom with its concentrated power will threaten the existence of small and medium sized players in unequal competition,” warns FRK chairman Heinz-Peter Labonte. At the same time, this would “herald the end of the nationwide deployment of fibre-optic networks, which has been driven by medium-sized cable operators, municipal utilities and regional providers.”

According to German fibre-optic cable operator association BREKO, the merger will lead to “a considerable restriction of competition – and thus to disadvantages for citizens and companies.” As examples, the association cites the market for contracts with the housing industry to supply end customers with cable services, which Vodafone would dominate with a market share of around 75%, and the fibre-optic market, in which regional and medium-sized companies would hardly have a chance, while Vodafone itself could withdraw from the rollout of fibre-optic networks, as it could just rely on is cable network in future.

Tele Columbus also fears that the “re-monopolisation of the cable market” could weaken competition in the supply of the housing market and lead to rising infrastructure and media provision costs for housing companies at the expense of tenants. In addition, fibre-optic deployments could be slowed down due to the merged company’s unwillingness to invest, a spokesman of the German cable operator told Broadband TV News.

German cable service association DNMG also warns of the negative effects of the merger. Vodafone’s concessions “are in no way suitable to secure competition for content, infrastructure and services,” DNMG managing director Ingo Schuchert told Broadband TV News. This would come at the expense of medium-sized businesses, end-customers and infrastructure deployment.

On July 18, 2019, the EU Commission announced its decision to approve the acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone subject to conditions.

Spanish FTTH growth continues

By Chris Dziadul

The number of FTTH lines in Spain topped 9 million in May, according to the latest data published by the regulator CNMC.

All told, 147,991 FTTH lines were added during the month, while in the year to May 2019 the country gained an additional 1.8 million FTTH lines.

Meanwhile, the number of DSL lines fell by 1.3 million in the year to May.

Movistar was the leading FTTH provider, accounting for 4.1 million lines, or 44.4% of the total, as of this May.

It, along with Orange (including Jazztel) and Vodafone (including Ono) claimed a combined 87.8% share of the FTTH market.

Vimeo order to compensate Mediaset over breach of copyright

By Julian Clover

An Italian court has ordered videoclip website Vimeo to pay Mediaset €5 million for the unlicensed use of the broadcaster’s content.

Mediaset is pursuing cases against 19 digital operators that it believes has breached its copyright.

Previously it has also successfully defended itself against Facebook, Yahoo and Dailymotion.

Earlier this week, a Rome court ordered Dailymotion to pay Italy’s Mediaset €5.5 million for breaching copyright law.

Vimeo is said to uploaded clips of close to 498 Mediaset shows without prior permission.

Mediaset believes it could be liable to pay compensation of almost €200 million.

SFR unveils new set-top

By Chris Dziadul

France’s SFR has announced the launch of a new set-top box.

Named the SFR Box 8, it has been produced by Altice Labs and France will be the first country in which Altice will market the box as of August 20.

Equipped with SFR’s voice assistant, and soon also Amazon’s Alexa, it in addition features 4K HDR and Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and is accompanies by new SFR TV app, available through the App Store and Android Store.

The box will be offered in France on FTTH and ADSL from August 20 and FTTB from October 8.

However, no price details have yet been released.

Commenting on the new box, Grégory Rabuel, SFR executive VP SFR France, said: “With the SFR Box8 experience, we will offer all our customers a new standard in the market: connected objects, smart home, image and cinema. Only Box market equipped with the latest generation of WiFi, WiFi 6, and incorporating all the new features expected by users as the voice assistant, the SFR BOX 8 and its multi-screen interface will bring a new experience to the living room.”

Netflix explores low cost subscription

By Julian Clover

Netflix has revealed plans to launch a new mobile only plan.

The low-cost subscription was revealed in the streamer’s investor letter in Wednesday.

After several months of testing, Netflix confirmed its first mobile screen plan will launch in India during Q3.

It says the plan will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and expand its business in a market where pay-TV ARPU is low.

A trial plan costing around $4 a month has been running in India and other selected Asian territories for the past few months.

Britbox launch confirmed for Q4

By Julian Clover

ITV and BBC have signed an agreement that will see the launch of their joint streaming service Britbox in the UK during the fourth quarter.

The venture will be controlled by ITV, who will have a 90% equity stake, the BBC will hold 10%. The BBC has an option to acquire additional shares over time up to 25% in total and ITV will have the ability to bring additional investors on board, leaving the door open for he publicly-owned tChannel 4, and potentially Viacom’s Channel 5.

Britbox will be priced at £5.99 per month for which viewers will receive an HD version available across multiple devices.

It will comprise of archive shows from the broadcasters’ libraries, including what’s described as “the largest collection of British boxsets”, and original commissions.

BritBox will pay market rate fees for content provided by ITV, BBC and other rights owners.

“The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment. Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcaster,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall.

It’s not the first time the two public service broadcasters have worked together. The partners were also at the foundation of ventures including Freeview, Freesat and YouView. They already run Britbox in the US and Canada.

Content such as Gavin & Stacey, Victoria, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm will be available at launch or, significantly, “when licences with other SVODs end”, a nod to US rivals Netflix and Amazons where the Britbox partners have previously concluded agreements.

“But this service isn’t just about the past,” said BBC director-general Tony Hall. “I am really excited about the new shows it will commission. With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future.”

The new shows are expected to be commissioned soon and make their debut from 2020.

BritBox will have its own dedicated management team led by Reemah Sakaan, Group Director ITV SVOD, responsible for making editorial decisions about the service content while also ensuring alignment with ITV’s and the BBC’s branding and editorial policies. Reemah reports to Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television, who has overall commissioning responsibility for BritBox.

Consumers who are interested in subscribing to BritBox when it becomes available can register their interest now at www.BritBox.co.uk.

• Ofcom has provisionally concluded that the BBC’s involvement in the BritBox service is not a material change to its commercial activities, and no further assessment is required ahead of its launch.

UK Digital Minister resigns after stop No Deal Brexit vote

By Julian Clover

UK digital minister Margot James has resigned after refusing to back the government in a vote designed to prevent the next prime minister from suspending Parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit.

The current favourite to take over the leadership of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson, is adamant the UK needs to leave the EU by October 31st.

In order to do so it had been suggested that he might delay the State Opening of Parliament, suspending it from sitting.

But a Group of MPs led by Chancellor Phillip Hammond broke ranks with the government and abstained in Thursday’s vote.

Ms James took on the role of Minister of State for Digital and the Creative in January 2018.

Britbox launch confirmed for Q4

By Julian Clover

ITV and BBC have signed an agreement that will see the launch of their joint streaming service Britbox in the UK during the fourth quarter.

The venture will be controlled by ITV, who will have a 90% equity stake, the BBC will hold 10%. The BBC has an option to acquire additional shares over time up to 25% in total and ITV will have the ability to bring additional investors on board, leaving the door open for he publicly-owned tChannel 4, and potentially Viacom’s Channel 5.

Britbox will be priced at £5.99 per month for which viewers will receive an HD version available across multiple devices.

It will comprise of archive shows from the broadcasters’ libraries, including what’s described as “the largest collection of British boxsets”, and original commissions.

BritBox will pay market rate fees for content provided by ITV, BBC and other rights owners.

“The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment. Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcaster,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall.

It’s not the first time the two public service broadcasters have worked together. The partners were also at the foundation of ventures including Freeview, Freesat and YouView. They already run Britbox in the US and Canada.

Content such as Gavin & Stacey, Victoria, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm will be available at launch or, significantly, “when licences with other SVODs end”, a nod to US rivals Netflix and Amazons where the Britbox partners have previously concluded agreements.

“But this service isn’t just about the past,” said BBC director-general Tony Hall. “I am really excited about the new shows it will commission. With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future.”

The new shows are expected to be commissioned soon and make their debut from 2020.

BritBox will have its own dedicated management team led by Reemah Sakaan, Group Director ITV SVOD, responsible for making editorial decisions about the service content while also ensuring alignment with ITV’s and the BBC’s branding and editorial policies. Reemah reports to Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television, who has overall commissioning responsibility for BritBox.

Consumers who are interested in subscribing to BritBox when it becomes available can register their interest now at www.BritBox.co.uk.

• Ofcom has provisionally concluded that the BBC’s involvement in the BritBox service is not a material change to its commercial activities, and no further assessment is required ahead of its launch.

Telekom Romania to shed 700 staff

By Chris Dziadul

The Romanian incumbent plans to lay off nearly 12% of its workforce.

Quoting an announcement by the company, Business Review reports that by shedding 692 employees it will be expanding a restructuring process that began two years ago due to lower revenues and record losses.

The majority of the losses (438) will be in Telekom Romania Communications, with the remainder (254) in Telekom Romania Mobile Communications.

Deutsche Telekom-backed OTE is currently in the process of selling its majority stake in Telekom Romania.

Favourites to buy the stake include RCS&RDS, Orange Romania, Russia’s ER-Telecom and the Bulgarian entrepreneur Spas Roussev.

OTT milestone for Tricolor

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Tricolor has secured over 500,000 customers for its OTT service in only the first two months.

Furthermore, it expects to increase the number to 2 million by the end of the year, primarily due to new connections.

In a statement, the company adds that it will open its OTT service to non-Tricolor customers this October.

Tricolor has created what it terms as an ecosystem that is already open to all its 12.232 million customers.

It allows them to consume content in the most convenient way, be it via satellite or the internet.

Tricolor says it is in negotiations to open up the ecosystem to leading companies from various industries, allowing them to offer partner services.

Chris Dziadul Reports: All systems go for Vodafone

By Chris Dziadul

The news that Vodafone has finally received permission from the EC to take over Liberty Global’s cable assets in three CEE markets is hugely significant for the region.

It will see the company become a major player in all three, and indeed the leading provider of converged services in Europe as a whole. In Hungary, for instance, the combined Vodafone/UPC operation will have 25%, 24% and 19% shares of the country’s mobile, fixed-line broadband and pay-TV markets respectively, while in the Czech Republic its new operation will include over half a million next generation broadband customers and 539,000 receiving its cable TV services. In Romania, Vodafone will finally be able to establish a strong presence in the country’s TV market.

However, as in the case of the sale of Liberty’s assets in Germany to Vodafone, the transactions in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania will come with strings attached. They address the EC’s competition concerns for the combined €18.4 billion deal, which was first announced in May 2018 and is expected to close at the end of this month.

Questions now arise as to how long Liberty Global plans to remain in the CEE region, where it will only be left with a presence in Poland (UPC Polska and a minority stake in the DTH platform nc+) and Slovakia (UPC Slovakia). Its UPC DTH operation, active in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania for nearly two decades, was recently sold to M7 Group.

The wider picture in the region remains one of consolidation and re-alignment, with long-established players such as Liberty Global and CME fading from the picture and new ones, including the Czech Republic’s PPF Group, expanding rapidly. It seems that we are only in the early stages of this process.

Telekom Romania to shed 700 staff

By Chris Dziadul

The Romanian incumbent plans to lay off nearly 12% of its workforce.

Quoting an announcement by the company, Business Review reports that by shedding 692 employees it will be expanding a restructuring process that began two years ago due to lower revenues and record losses.

The majority of the losses (438) will be in Telekom Romania Communications, with the remainder (254) in Telekom Romania Mobile Communications.

Deutsche Telekom-backed OTE is currently in the process of selling its majority stake in Telekom Romania.

Favourites to buy the stake include RCS&RDS, Orange Romania, Russia’s ER-Telecom and the Bulgarian entrepreneur Spas Roussev.

OTT milestone for Tricolor

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Tricolor has secured over 500,000 customers for its OTT service in only the first two months.

Furthermore, it expects to increase the number to 2 million by the end of the year, primarily due to new connections.

In a statement, the company adds that it will open its OTT service to non-Tricolor customers this October.

Tricolor has created what it terms as an ecosystem that is already open to all its 12.232 million customers.

It allows them to consume content in the most convenient way, be it via satellite or the internet.

Tricolor says it is in negotiations to open up the ecosystem to leading companies from various industries, allowing them to offer partner services.

OTT milestone for Tricolor

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Tricolor has secured over 500,000 customers for its OTT service in only the first two months.

Furthermore, it expects to increase the number to 2 million by the end of the year, primarily due to new connections.

In a statement, the company adds that it will open its OTT service to non-Tricolor customers this October.

Tricolor has created what it terms as an ecosystem that is already open to all its 12.232 million customers.

It allows them to consume content in the most convenient way, be it via satellite or the internet.

Tricolor says it is in negotiations to open up the ecosystem to leading companies from various industries, allowing them to offer partner services.

NENT seizes Nordic streaming market

By Julian Clover

NENT added 65,000 subscribers to its Nordic streaming business in the second quarter.

The figures are significant in what is traditionally a quiet quarter.

The company says it made “substantial progress” during Q2 in seizing what it sees as a significant opportunity in the Nordic streaming market.

A total of 244,000 subscribers were added in the last 12 months and Viaplays 1,421,000 subscribers now represent 60% of its total subscriber base.

“NENT Group comes out of Q2 even better positioned to benefit from the shift to on-demand and online viewing. Scaling Viaplay is the best way to create long-term shareholder value, and we intend to do so while continuing to deliver profitable growth,” said President & CEO Anders Jensen.

Net Income for the quarter was SEK 348 million (€33.1m), up from SEK 329 million.

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