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Today โ€” January 17th 2019Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Broadcast suspension row in Romania

By Chris Dziadul

Romania’s National Audiovisual Council (CNA) has taken the unusual step of requiring Realitatea TV to go off the air for 10 minutes on Thursday, January 17, between 19.00-19.10.

This follows from what it says are violations of audiovisual legislation pertaining to the coverage of an anti–corruption rally in the capital, Bucharest, in August 2018.

According to Mediafax, CNA’s decision has been widely condemned by both Realitatea TV and opposition politicians.

It adds that the regulator has since confirmed its decision to impose the 10-minute blackout on Realitatea TV.

Commenting on the decision, Realitatea TV’s director Edward Pastia said: “We are confused with the decision of the CNA, it is very difficult to find words in such a situation. The CNA instigates censorship, we cannot present reality as the CNA wishes or as PSD or PSD wants through the CNA. We present it as it is. If the CNA thinks that other posts that have been subjected to violence by August 10, they seem OK and are sanctioned with RON5,000-10,000, and we have to close our broadcast. Shutting down a TV station without any proof, it’s incredible what’s going on at the CNA. We do not understand why this has happened”.

Media Group Ukraine strikes piracy blow

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine (MGU) has achieved an important victory in its fight against piracy.

Quoting the Vinnytsia Court of Appeal, the broadcaster says that the court has upheld the decision of the city court to arrest the owners of VinAsterisk.

Following an investigation, it was found that the latter violated copyright and related rights when retransmitting MGU channels without its consent.

These included Futbol 1 and Futbol 2 over the internet in 2018.

Criminal proceedings were initiated following a statement by MGU to the National Police.

Violation of copyright and related rights is punishable from a fine to imprisonment of up to six years.

Netcity access conditions agreed

By Chris Dziadul

The Romanian regulator ANCOM has announced an agreement on the technical and economic conditions for access to Bucharest’s telecom infrastructure Netcity.

It requires Netcity to provide operators and third parties access to the infrastructure under the same conditions.

It has also given Netcity a maximum of 60 days of ANCOM’s decision to settle contracts in force with the provisions of the decision.

In addition, ANCOM has revised the structure of tariffs for FTTB and FTTB connections.

Commenting on the development, Sorin Grindeanu, the president of ANCOM, said: “The adoption of this decision is the result of a particularly laborious process that has been taking place over several years in the context of the adoption of new legislation in the field of electronic communications network infrastructure. I hope that in the coming months, we will all see the changes this decision will make in Bucharest. The decision facilitates real competition at the capital level, which will be reflected in more attractive prices and competitive services”.

Jaromir Soukup founds political party

By Chris Dziadul

Jaromir Soukup, the owner of the Czech national commercial broadcaster Barrandov TV, has set up his own political party.

According to idnes.cz, he announced his decision at the beginning of a news programme on Barrandov TV, adding that the party, which will be named after him, will aim to defend Czech national interests against corrupt politicians and oligarchs.

However, the Czech Interior Ministry said that it had received any registration of a new political party in the country since last November.

Soukup has also announced his candidacy for the European parliament.

Soukup founded Empresa Media in 2000 and bought Barrandov TV, of which he is also the head, seven years ago.

Yesterday โ€” January 16th 2019Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

OTE to sell Telekom Albania

By Chris Dziadul

OTE has agreed to sell its entire stake in Telekom Albania to the Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest for €50 million.

In a statement, it notes that Albania Telecom Invest is controlled by Spas Roussev, the main shareholder in the Bulgarian incumbent Vivacom, and the Albanian-Bulgarian investor Elvin Guri.

Commenting on the development, OTE’s chairman Michael Tsamaz said: “The sale of Telekom Albania concludes the successful investment in Albania for OTE Group. It is a strategic decision, in the context of OTE Group’s redefined priorities and growth plans, in order to create value for all shareholders and support sustainable development”.

He added: “I would like to thank Telekom Albania’s management and employees for the company’s accomplishments to date, as well as for their sound cooperation with OTE Group. The acquisition of the company by a strong and entrepreneurial investment group ensures its growth and creates the conditions to further strengthen its market position”.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval by the competent local authorities and financing, and is expected to be completed within the first half of 2019.

Eurobank acted as OTE’s financial advisor.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Telekom Albania was also take-over target for Telekom Srbija late last year.

Ukraine eyes DTH encryption delay

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian national commercial broadcaster 1+1 Media is unlikely to start encrypting satellite channels before this May.

Speaking to Liga Biznes and quoted by Mediasat, its DG Alexander Tkachenko added that the encryption will be beneficial to 1+1 Media as it will help it control the distribution of content.

It will also contribute to the development of the pay-TV market in Ukraine.

Other major broadcasters in Ukraine have also obtained permission from the regulator National Council to encrypt satellite channels.

Tkachenko revealed that once the Viasat channels are encrypted the full package will cost on average UAH120 (€3.7) a month, with the minimum package cost being UAH69.

Regulator asks for public views on Hrvatski Telekom deal

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian regulator HAKOM has announced a public call for opinions and comments on the proposed acquisition of 100% of HP Produkcija, the operator of the pay-TV service, by Hrvatski Telekom (HT).

In it, it asks for the opinions and comments to be submitted electronically no later than 16.00 on January 30, 2019, the last day of the public call.

HAKOM notes that HT and HP Produkcija submitted a joint notification of the proposed acquisition on November 27 last year.

Subsequently, the regulator issued a temporary solution on January 4 in which it concluded the deal could have a significant impact on market competition in the relevant market.

Furthermore, it temporarily forbade HT and HP Produkcija to finalise the deal until the completion of procedures.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

RTS head Dragan Bujosevic to stay on

By Chris Dziadul

Dragan Bujosevic is to stay on as the DG of the Serbian public broadcaster RTS.

In a statement, RTS says that its board of directors has decided to approve the validity period of the DG’s employment contract.

It adds that: “on the basis of this decision, the president of the management board of JMU RTS, Prof. Dr, Vladimir Vuletic, is authorised to sign an agreement with the DG of JMU RTS Dragan Bujosevic for the continuation of work”.

TVP reveals Lithuanian plans

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP plans to expand its presence in Lithuania by launching a channel.

According to Satkurier, quoting Maciej Stanecki, a member of the board at TVP, and Mariusz Pilis, a journalist and producer, it will be known as TVP Wilno and target the Polish diaspora living in the country.

Furthermore, it will share a frequency currently used by the long-established TVP Polonia, distributed in Lithuania on the basis of agreements signed between the two countries.

TVP Wilno will be broadcast in Polish and made available to DTT viewers in Lithuania.

Ultra HD first in Belarus

By Chris Dziadul

Cosmos Telekom has become the first cable operator in Belarus to offer its subscribers Ultra HD content.

In a statement, it says it has added the channel Ultra 4K Extreme to its line up, with the service being included in the Basic and Combo packages for no additional charge.

Cosmos Telekom is one of the top three leading telcos in Belarus and its offer includes cable and MMDS TV services, as well as high-speed internet.

It is 50% owned, and works closely with, Russia’s Akado Group.

Bulgarian rivals target Nova TV

By Chris Dziadul

Two Bulgarian entrepreneurs are in negotiations to buy Nova TV from Modern Times Group (MTG).

Citing several sources, Capital reports that the entrepreneurs Spas Rusev and Kiril Domuschev are competing, rather than cooperating together, to acquire what is one of Bulgaria’s two main broadcasters.

Its adds that Rusev has confirmed his interest in Nova TV but refused to reveal the name of his partner, understood to a consortium with a large foreign company, in the bidding process.

However, the telco BTC, in which Rusev is the largest shareholder, is not involved.

Meanwhile, Domuschev refused to comment.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, MTG recently terminated an agreement it has reached with PPF Group that would have seen the Czech company buy Nova TV.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection off Competition (CPC) has previously indicated it would favour a local player taking over Nova TV.

1+1 Media gives anti-piracy report

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian national commercial broadcaster 1+1 Media has provided a summary of its fight against piracy in 2018.

Quoting 1+1 Media, Mediasat> reports that at the end of the year it had sent 103 claims to offenders and signed 48 agreements with software service providers (violators) leading to peaceful settlement of disputes with them.

Furthermore, together with the Smartsolutions Law Group, with which 1+1 Media has partnered in its fight against piracy, it initiated 17 new criminal proceedings, within which 10 experts studies and six authorised searches were undertaken.

There are currently over 30 criminal proceedings taking place.

In other actions, 1+1 Media, together with the Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine, investigated 11 instances of the violation of intellectual property rights. 1+1 Media also filed the first of two complaints related to card sharing activities.

Importantly, despite the actions of criminals, as a result of the work of 1+1 Media in 2017 and 2018, there was a significant increase in demand for pay-TV services in Ukraine. As a result, from 2017 to 2018, the number of subscribers increased from 4.7 million to 5.1 million.

Furthermore, thanks to the encryption of satellite TV channels this year 1+1 Media predicts the total will rise to 7.3 million.

New sports channel for A1 Bulgaria

By Chris Dziadul

A1 Bulgaria will launch its fourth sports channel on January 21.

According to the company, it will be known as Max Sport 4 and offer the most interesting football matches from Spain’s La Liga. In addition, it will show matches from the two most prestigious football competitions in South America, namely Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamerica.

A1 Bulgaria notes that it this is another step in the expansion of its Max Sport channels. This season they have already begun to broadcast matches from the UEFA Champions League, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga.

All told, the A1 sports channels broadcast over 10,000 hours of live content a year, with their output including the most popular sporting events in the world.

HbbTV first for Czech Radio

By Chris Dziadul

Czech Radio (Cesky rozhlas) has become the first radio station in the country to use an interactive HbbTV application.

According to Cesky rozhlas, it is available in the Czech TV’s DVB-T Multiplex 1 in the programme position of Radio Wave and will in the near future also become available on other distribution channels such as the Astra 3B satellite and UPC Czech cable network.

Cesky rozhlas adds that Radio Wave was not selected at random as today marks its 13th anniversary.

HbbTV services can already be received in around 30% of Czech homes.

Setback for Hrvatski Telekom

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian regulator HAKOM has decided to hold up approving the acquisition of the pay-TV platform evotv by the incumbent Hrvatski Telekom (HT).

Instead, reports Seebiz, it has asked for additional facts on the deal, which it believes could have a significant impact on the market.

However, HT’s senior VP Sinisa Duranovic is of the view that the outcome will be positive, with the telco eventually receiving the green light to buy evotv.

Furthermore, sources in Croatia have informed Broadband TV News that the buying process is not forbidden or suspended.Furthermore, it is not unusual for such a process to last more than 30 days.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, HT agreed to buy a 100% stake in HP Produkcija, the operator of evotv, in November 2018.

Launched in 2012, evotv had 71,185 subscribers and 30 employees as of June 30 last year.

Its revenues and market share in 2017 were HRK57 million (€7.67 million) and 6% respectively.

Digi raises sub fees

By Chris Dziadul

Romania’s RCS&RDS (Digi) has announced a series of increases in its cable and internet subscription fees.

According to Ziarul Financiar, they are the first in 10 years and will raise average tariffs by RON1-2 (€0.21-0.42) a month.

When they come into effect on March 1, existing customers will see their monthly subscription fees increase by an average of 3-7%.

Broadband TV News notes that RCS&RDS splits its services into those that are available in urban and rural parts of the country. From March 1, customers living in urban areas will be charged a maximum RON31 a month for a digital cable TV and RON25/26 for a DTH package.

On top of this, they will be able to access additional packages such as HBO (RON13) and Max Pack (RON15).

Cable subscribers will also be able to receive Digi 4K for RON5 a month.

Poland launches cable access consultation

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) has initiated a consultation into specifying conditions that ensure access to the infrastructure of country’s leading cable operators.

In a statement, it identifies the operators as Netia, UPC Polska, Multimedia Polska, Vectra Investments, Inea and Toya. It adds that the conditions for ensuring access to telecom cables in multi-dwelling buildings “constitute a universal set of rules and principles when applying for access to telecommunications cables”.

UKE continues: “The proposed regulation is designed to meet the needs of telecommunications undertakings, while not interfering with the operation of infrastructure operators. The consultation also covers a tool which will be used by telecommunications undertakings to determine access fees.

“The consulted draft decisions pursue the Strategic lines of actions of the President of UKE for 2017-2021. The intention of the regulator is to promote co-investments, support the development and sharing of infrastructure as well as to ensure efficient cooperation among operators. The drafts, preceded by an analysis of the terms of cooperation and a workshop with market players, implement the concepts of the Digital Agenda for Europe and Europe 2020 strategy. They also execute the concepts of the Framework Directive and the Telecommunications Act. Symmetric access to infrastructure is also one of the assumptions of the European Electronic Communications Code adopted last year”.

UKE concludes by asking for “precise and constructive comments supported by relevant arguments”.

It also does not rule out the possibility of conducting a second round of consultations.

Latvia clamps down on internet piracy

By Chris Dziadul

Latvia has passed a law that requires ISPs to block access to TV broadcasts that violate intellectual property rights.

According to Mediasat, the blocking will initially be undertaken in out of court orders by the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) for a period of six months.

It adds that the process is similar to that already employed in other countries and will see the regulator initially send cease-and desist notifications to offenders.

They will be given 15 days to stop their illegal activities, after which their sites will be placed on a national blacklist sent to local ISPs.

It is estimated that the state will provide the NEPLP with an additional €33,207 this year and €280,365 in both 2020 and 2021 to carry out its additional functions.

Mediasat notes that the move comes alongside the Ukrainian manufacturer and Clear Sky Initiative (see Broadband TV News report from October 2018) member Infomir stating it blocks access after receiving complaints from copyright holders.

Anti-piracy efforts in Latvia have been spearheaded by the Par legalu saturu society, with like Ukraine’s Clear Sky Initiate are signatories of the Warsaw Declaration that unites anti-piracy organisations and rights holders in their fight against copyright theft.

CIS HD first for Globecast

By Chris Dziadul

Globecast has been selected by the National State TV and Radio Company of the Republic of Belarus to launch an HD version of its international satellite channel Belarus 24.

In a release, Globecast says that the channel, distributed as a FTA service on Eutelsat’s Hotbird, made its debut at the beginning of last month, with the SD version continued until January 1, 2019. The significance is that the launch on Hotbird is the first of a HD channel from a CIS country.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, plans by the Belarusian broadcaster to switch its channels to HD were first announced last year.

Commenting on the development, Aleksandr Martynenko, general director at Belarus 24, said: “We have a high trust relationship with Globecast, much like they do with Eutelsat. Given the success and reach of Belarus 24 in SD since 2005, we felt it was time for us to deliver this important content in HD so that we can bring a significantly enhanced viewing experience to our customers. We are very happy with our choice of Globecast and Eutelsat as the project has gone exceptionally smoothly”.

Biliana Pumpalovic, general director at Globecast Moscow, added: “Belarus 24 has been an important customer of ours for almost a decade, and we feel privileged that they came to us with this key upgrade in their distribution development. We’ve worked closely with them, both technically and commercially, to bring the HD version of Belarus 24 to millions of viewers across Europe”.

Orange Romania hit by fine

By Chris Dziadul

Romania’s Competition Council (CC) has fined Orange €14 million for abusing its dominant market position in the country.

In a statement, CC says that in the period 2011-2015 the company restricted Simplus Invest SRL’s access to its mobile network, blocking its business of sending commercial messages to/by Orange customers.

The CC notes that it previously fined Orange €34.8 million and Vodafone €28.3 million in 2011, again for abusing their dominant market positions.

Orange appealed to the Supreme Court but failed to have the fine overturned, while the Vodafone case is still pending.

Orange, Vodafone, Telekom and RCS&RDS are the main mobile operators in Romania, with all but one (Vodafone) also leading players in the country’s TV industry.

Vodafone will join them if its bid to acquire UPC Romania succeeds.

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