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Today β€” July 17th 2018Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Polish regulator inks TV audience measurement deal

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) has signed a contract with the Institute of Telecommunications to conduct TV audience surveys.

The surveys will be based on Return Path Data (RPD) analysis, which is obtained from cable or satellite set-top boxes using a return path from the decoder to the operator.

In a statement, the KRRiT says that the contract includes the development of the concept of data collection, analysis and processing of RPD data and the presentation of analytical results.

It adds that the research potential is over 11.5 million households, but if the growing smart TV market is factored in the range is even larger and includes DTT.

The KRRiT also says that at the same time it has started collecting anonymous data from operators, thanks to which it will be possible to conduct statistical analysis of behaviours in real time.

It is expected that thanks to this cooperation, it will also be possible to analyse the distribution of TV channels on the internet. Operators will be given access to the data results.

It concludes by saying that this is another step to single-source media consumption research.

Octavian Rau to head Moldovan regulator

By Chris Dziadul

Octavian Rau has been appointed the new director of the Moldovan regulator ANRCETI.

According to ANRCETI, he was presented to its employees by Chiril Gaburici, the country’s minister of economy and infrastructure.

Gaburici wished Rau great success and insisted on constructive collaboration between the ministry and ANRCETI because the IT sector is becoming increasingly attractive to investors and is up 9% from last year.

Furthermore, as a share of GDP it has reached 6.6% and is growing.

Yesterday β€” July 16th 2018Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Abramovich share sale wins approval

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has approved the sale of a 4% stake in Channel One currently held by Roman Abramovich to National Media Group (NMG).

As a result, Abramovich will see his interest in Channel One reduced to 20%, which will comply with the levels of foreign ownership in media outlets permitted under Russian law.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Abramovich took out Israeli citizenship in May but has no intention of selling his entire stake in Channel One.

Channel One’s main shareholder is the Federal Agency for State Property Management (39%), while NMG will see its share increase from 25% to 29%.

Pay-TV milestone for Rostelecom

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian telco Rostelecom is set to become the first fixed-line operator in the country to surpass 10 million pay-TV subscribers.

According to Telecom Daily, the company gained 100,000 in the second quarter and will shortly reach two psychologically important landmarks, namely 10 million pay-TV subscribers, of which half (5 million) will be IPTV.

Telecom Daily adds that growth in Russia’s pay-TV market slowed in Q2, increasing by 190,000 to reach 42.46 million subscribers.

Pay-TV penetration stood at 75% and APRU rose by 1.2% to R172 (€2.35).

Nine out of 10 subscribers opted for services offered by the top five operators, with Rostelecom, Tricolor TV and Orion growing the most.

Tricolor TV, the market leader, gained 40,000 customers to reach 12.24 million.

Rostelecom, on the other hand, accounted for half of new connections, with 80% opting for broadband and TV packages.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Pay-TV in Montenegro: the stats

By Chris Dziadul

Montenegro ended June with 209,448 subscribers to pay-TV services.

This, according to data published by the Agency for Electronic Media (AEM), was 5,598, or 2.75%, more than two months earlier.

The figure at the end of 2017 stood at 201,581. AEM notes that as of the end in June the total number of pay-TV connections was 7.52% higher than the number of households and the number of connections pertaining to natural persons 4.18% higher than the number of households.

However, this varied from region to region, with the number of connections per household significantly higher in the capital, Podgorica and certain coastal areas.

It also concludes that 21,000 households, or 11% of the total, still used only FTA TV.

In the pay-TV sector, cable was the market leader with a 40.50% share. It was followed by DTH (28.34%). IPTV (27.08%) and DVB-T2 (4.08%).

Basic package contained anything from 13 to 202 channels (on average 74) and cost between €5 and €15.99 a month (average of €9.34).

Eight operators offered an average of six additional packages ranging from one to 11), with the average price per package being €5.92 (€2 to €25).

Sport and movies featured most prominently in the additional packages, with the most popular packages being HBO, Pink and Arena.

Significantly, only one operator offered access to services via the internet and through mobile apps, and only one provided VOD.

Typically, Montenegrin households spent an average of €11.69 a month on pay-TV services/

Ukrainian broadcasters hit by fines

By Chris Dziadul

Ukraine’s National Council has fined 173 companies for not complying with a legal requirement to provide information about their ownership structure.

The companies include broadcasters and providers of software services, with the fines totalling UAH523,595.34 (€16,942.9).

Under the terms of the law “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, part 4 article 12, companies conducting business activities in TV and radio broadcasting are required to submit details of their ownership in the previous year to the National Council by March 31 each year.

Failure to do so can result in a fine of 5% of the total amount of licence fees paid by the companies.

In this instance, the fines imposed by the regulator ranged from UAH0.14 to UAH69,534.27.

M7 Smart TV app wins Webit New Media Award

By Robert Briel

The M7 Smart TV app has won the Webit New Media Award at the recent Webit Digital Entertainment & Media Summit in Sofia.

Plamen Russev, Executive Chairman of the Webit Foundation, stated: “The New Media Award acknowledges an indisputable innovation in the content creation, aggregation or delivery. With its innovative smart TV app, M7 has successfully launched a new service that lowers the consumer barrier for both linear and interactive TV content consumption, while addressing the growing need for sustainable and cost-effective hardware devices.”

The M7 Smart TV app merges the benefits of linear, OTT and interactive television into a single interface without the need for a traditional set top box.

In partnership with Samsung, the M7 Smart TV app has already been successfully integrated in Diveo, M7’s new hybrid TV platform for Germany, Skylink, M7’s pay-TV platform for Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as HD Austria, the M7 TV platform for Austria. Canal Digitaal (Netherlands), TV Vlaanderen and Télésat (Belgium), the other M7 platforms in Europe, will follow soon.

Various other leading TV manufacturers have expressed their eagerness to also team-up with M7 for the integration of the M7 smart TV app in all their new generation smart TVs. Related announcements are expected shortly.

Telia to switch off DTT in Lithuania

By Chris Dziadul

Telia Lietuva plans to stop providing DTT services in Lithuania in stages starting from the beginning of next month.

According to the company, the number of DTT subscribers has been continuously going down in the last two years.

Furthermore, following the introduction of IPTV over LTE last month it has been possible to offer IPTV over LTE as a substitute for DTT to customers who do not have access to the internet via cable (FTTH or DSL) to receive IPTV services.

Telia Lietuva currently has 27,000 DTT customers compared to 220,000 receiving its IPTV offer.

The company operates a network of DVB-T transmitters in order to rebroadcast encrypted, mainly international channels as well as FTA national channels.

FTA channels will continue to be broadcast in Lithuania.

Connect Box milestone in Poland

By Chris Dziadul

Over half a million homes served by UPC in Poland are now using Connect Boxes.

Commenting on the development, Jaroslaw Pijanowski, VP sales and care, UPC Polska, said: “The reliability of internet services provided by UPC is confirmed by independent measurements, such as the widely available Speed Test. In the ranking of internet providers for 2017, UPC was number one in the Wi-Fi category, which was thanks to Connect Box functionality. The customer satisfaction rate from UPC internet services is also systematically growing. In NPS research, customers point out that they appreciate not only the high speed of the internet, but also its stability and good Wi-Fi coverage throughout the flat or house”.

The Connect Box was introduced by UPC in Poland two years ago and is now used around half of its 1.1 million broadband internet customers.

Liberty Global has deployed 10 million Connect Boxes worldwide.

B2B boosts Russia’s Orion

By Chris Dziadul

The first half of this year was the most successful to date for the Russian DTH platform operator Orion’s B2B activities.

However, its satellite TV business, according to the company’s general director Krill Makhnovsky, did not perform so well. This was largely due to the saturated nature of the pay-TV market, viewers opting for streamed internet services and a slowdown in the number of new connections.

Orion’s B2B activities in H1 included the signing of a number of strategic partnership agreements, among them with the largest international majors present in Russia.

Orion ended June with 3,138,000 subscribers, while its revenues in H1 were 1% more than in the same period in 2017.

DTH services accounted for 71% of its portfolio, broadcasting services and the upgrade and production of TV channels 25% and channel distribution 4%.

ARPU is H1 was R109 (€1.5) for its budget and R288 for its mid-priced packages.

Orion’s online services continued to grow in popularity, with number of channels in Telekarta Online being increased by 10 over 80 in H1.

During the first half of the year the application was downloaded by over 8,000 people, or 14% more than in H1 2017.

All told, it has been downloaded over 60,000 times since its launch.

Meanwhile, the number of installations of the mobile app Telegrid increased by 27% in H1 and the total number now exceeds 115,000.

Digi secures FA Cup rights

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech DTH and internet TV operator Digi CZ has added the FA Cup to the list of English football rights it now holds.

According to the company, it will be the first broadcast platform in the country to ever offer its viewers the Premier League, Sky Bet Championship and FA Cup.

Digi CZ employs the Digi TV brand and holds the rights to several other sports competitions including Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and the ATP tennis tournament.

It has been present in the Czech market since 2006 and was acquired by the Czech Republic’s Lama Energy Group in April 2015.

Ukraine extends national channel licences

By Chris Dziadul

Ukraine’s National Council has extend the licences of 24 national TV channels for a further seven years.

In a statement, it says that after listening to the channels at a meeting on July 11 it concluded that their activities meet the requirements of obtaining a digital licence for national multichannel broadcasting.

These include reaching no less than two-thirds of the population of every oblast in Ukraine.

All 24 channels currently hold seven-year licences that were awarded in a competition in 2011 and are shortly due to expire.

The channels include Inter, Ukraina and Studio 1+1.

New ownership for Russian hockey channel

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian hockey channel KHL TV has been taken over by Match TV, which is owned by Gazprom Media.

Kommersant reports that the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and National Sports TV Channel, the operating company of Match TV, have established a company named KHL Media, in which Match TV owns 80%.

KHL now also owns 100% of KHL Marketing, which was formerly owned by the KHL.

Match TV has been producing and distributing KHL TV for some time.

KHL TV was launched in 2009 and the move is seen as a consolidation of the sports TV channel market in Russia.

No financial details of the transaction have been disclosed.

Croatia revisits Italian TV interference problem

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian regulator HAKOM has begun to monitor interference to TV and radio signals in the country by transmitters in neighbouring Italy.

In a statement, it says that from this month to September it will undertake extensive measurement of disturbances coming from Italy in VHF and UHF frequency ranges, intended for analogue FM and T-DAB radio, as well as DVB-T. It will cover areas of Croatia than form part of the Adriatic coast and islands.

HAKOM says that it has undertaken such measurements in the summer months, when interference is at its worst, for some time as part of a general campaign seeking to resolve the problem through bilateral negotiations and international institutions such as the ITU and EC.

These resulted in last year’s closure of most transmitters in Italy causing TV signal interference, thereby significantly improving reception in the digital regions 5, 7, 8 and 9 in Croatia.

However, the transmitters have not been entirely removed and their closure is important for the future redesign of the DTT network in Croatia in order to allow the introduction of new mobile service in the 700MHz band.

HAKOM also notes that Italy has yet to make any improvements to radio signal interference, which has significantly impacted on the reception of Croatian FM stations for several decades.

Gazprom Media delays OTT launch

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Gazprom Media has put back the launch of a new OTT service offering viewers serials and sports.

Quoting three sources, Vedomosti reports that the service, known as TNT Premier, was originally due to make its debut in April. However, it may now launch either at the end of the summer or in the autumn.

It adds that Gazprom Media had at first planned to introduce TNT Premier alongside its coverage of the World Cup. Its efforts are now solely focused on the latter, which ends this weekend.

Gazprom Media operates a proprietary sports channel named Match TV, while TNT is one of the group’s flagship TV channels.

More Canal+ channels for Poland

By Chris Dziadul

banery nc+

Canal+ is looking at the possibility of launching two more sports channels in Poland.

Wirtualne Media reports they would be known as Canal+ Sport 3 and Canal+ Sport 4 and join a proprietary portfolio, distributed on the DTH platform nc+, that currently consists of Canal+ Sport, Canal+ Sport 2 and nSport+.

Quoting Paulina Smaszcz-Kurzajewska, Canal+’s PR and communications director, it adds that work and talks are on going, though at this stage there are no concrete plans.

Wirtualne Media says that Canal+’s decision may be based on the fact that Polsat recently obtained licences for two sports channels and also acquired a majority stake in the Polish business of Eleven Sports Network.

Czech welcome for US, Liberty Global/Vodafone deals

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech Association of Electronic Communications (CAEK) has welcomed both the upcoming AT&T/Time Warner merger and the recent agreement between Liberty Global and Vodafone.

Speaking to Broadband TV News, Zdenek Vanicek, chairman of the association at CAEK, said that the former, once it receives regulatory approval in the US, will noticeably strengthen the profile and performance of the video part of Czech electronic communications from 2019 onwards.

Meanwhile, the Vodafone/Liberty Global deal may soon affect the Czech electronic communications industries significantly and the CAEK believes it is a powerful step forward in the right direction.

The CAEK represents both the telecom and media/cable TV industries in the Czech Republic.

It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and will hold a jubilee conference in Prague on November 21.

Russian OTT cooperation intensifies

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s leading OTT service ivi has begun to sell advertising in the smart TV application for Tvigle, one of its competitors.

Kommersant reports the ivi’s Smart House advertising network already includes the apps of other competitors, including Rutube, Peers.TV and Vintera.TV. It adds that the network, which ivi created in February, already reaches some 20 million users. In the case of Tvigle, its smart TV app has until now reached 2 million viewers or 1 million devices.

With its incorporation into Smart House, the network will reach over 90% of the smart TV audience in Russia. Advertising on Tvigle will continue to be sold by the ad sales company IMHO, a subsidiary of NSK, as well as the network.

Kommersant notes that the volume of advertising in the ivi app for smart TVs grew from 1 billion to 2.3 billion impressions in 2017. It is expected to grow at 1.5 times more this year.

Quoting Telecom Daily, it adds that that around 17.6 million people in Russia now own smart TVs, with 82% of the devices being connected to the internet. Furthermore, the number of devices has increased six fold in the last five years.

Tvigle’s share of the online movie market stands at 7%, with the company having revenues of R500 million (€6.76 million).

Smart TVs are now considered one of the main drivers of growth in the Russian OTT market.

Anti-piracy ruling awards BeIN and DigitAlb €20m

By Chris Dziadul

A Swedish court has handed down prison sentences and imposed huge fines against three perpetrators behind the ATN pirate broadcasting operation.

The defendants, who operate the largest Arabic internet pirate IPTV service, were tried for various crimes under Swedish law including Violation of the Decoder Act, Violation of the Copyright Act, Crimes against the Offensive Weapons Act and Crime against the Trademark Act; and received prison terms ranging from one year to two and a half years, subject to appeal. The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of €18.8 million in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to beIN Media Group and €1.4 million in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to Albania’s DigitAlb, the two legitimate broadcasters who were victims of the piracy.

According to Nordic Content Protection (NCP), who originally filed the complaint against ATN in 2016, ATN is based in Malmö, Sweden but also has operations in the United States, Greece, Denmark and Canada. Its activities consist of appropriating the reception and then decoding, packaging and re-transmitting TV broadcasts to its own paying clientele. The pirate network has provided its customers with access to illegal pirate streams of over 2,000 channels, with a focus on channels emanating from the Middle East and Turkey. The ruling announced today has dealt a significant blow to ATN’s ability to operate moving forwards; and sends a resounding message to pirate broadcast operations around the world that enforcement authorities are applying the full force of the law to extinguish the illegal operations.

NCP adds that as a sign of the inter-connectivity and audacity of the pirate ATN operation, during the course of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, ATN has re-streamed FIFA-owned content from another pirate channel, beoutQ, which emanates from Saudi Arabia. beoutQ has received significant international condemnation for its high-profile piracy of sports content from beIN Media Group, distributing that content on the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat. beIN Media Group supported NCP in its case against ATN, including providing expert witness testimony. The trial judgment is appealable.

Speaking about the ruling Anders Braf, CEO of NCP, said: “We are delighted that the Swedish courts have taken a strong stance against the industrial piracy perpetrated by ATN. Our membership is comprised of the leading broadcasters and content makers in the Nordic region and we all share a common concern about the growing rate and sophistication of broadcast piracy. Not only does it present a serious threat to the funding of the television and film industries, it also threatens the funding of sports and entertainment rights holders. The prison sentences and record fines handed down in this case send a clear message to broadcast pirates – the industry is taking action and we will use the full extent of the law to see offenders brought to justice.”

Cameron Andrews, senior legal counsel – anti Ppiracy, of beIN Media Group, added: “This legal case is really significant in the fight against illegal TV pirates. TV pirates like ATN package hundreds, and often thousands of pirated television channels from around the world, and then make big money by selling subscriptions. These businesses are parasites, making huge profits off the back of stolen content. The damages and prison sentences ordered by the Swedish court reflect the serious harm that piracy on this scale causes. Enforcement actions like this ruling against ATN are an important part of the legitimate industry’s efforts to tackle this piracy, and sends a strong message that piracy on this scale will not be tolerated. We sincerely thank Nordic Content Protection for their efforts and determination in bringing the pirates to justice.”

Alban Jaho, CEO of DigitAlb, said: “Today’s ruling sets a clear precedent that those responsible should repay the significant financial losses that are incurred by the rightful owners of the content they are stealing. Piracy is theft – plain and simple – and it is only right that those responsible are punished. In this case, record fines and prison terms have been issued and we hope that this sets an example for other authorities around the world to follow.”

New Sony role for John Rossiter

By Chris Dziadul

John Rossiter has become the EVP – Distribution and Networks CEEMA at Sony Pictures Entertainment, effective this month.

Rossiter has been the general manager at Sony Pictures Television Networks from August 2011 until the present, overseeing SPT Networks TV channels across Central Europe, responsible for four brands in 14 territories.

Prior to that, he was senior VP operations and development at HBO from January 2004 until July 2011.

Earlier still, he held positions at Sony Pictures Television International, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Television International and Lonmin.

Rossiter was also a board member at CTAM Europe from 2007-2011.