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Yesterday โ€” March 22nd 2019Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

DTH in Russia: new insights

By Chris Dziadul

Russia has considered creating a state-owned satellite operator to serve homes unable to receive DTT services.

However, reports TelecomDaily, quoting Alexei Volin, deputy minister of communications and mass media, the idea was abandoned after negotiations with the satellite industry.

It adds that the main reason for doing so was that such an operator broadcasting unencrypted DTH signals would have dealt a serious blow to the satellite industry in Russia.

Volin said that at present 800,000 homes in the country are unable to receive DTT services. This is equivalent to around 1.6% of the population.

Satellite operators have offered to provide residents of remote areas access to the first and second DTT multiplexes for free and around 300,000 homes currently receive satellite TV services in this way.

Last December President Putin signed a law obliging DTH operators to provide the services on the first and second multiplexes to homes unable to receive DTT signals.

The initiative for this came from the operators themselves.

Cyfrowy Polsat sums up 2018

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s Cyfrowy Polsat saw its revenues grow by more than 10% to reach PLN10.7 billion (€2.5 billion) in 2018.

At the same time, according to a summary of the year published by the company, its EBITDA increased by 7% to PLN3.7 billion.

Other highlights on the year included over 30% of customers using bundled offers; the number of multiplay customers increasing by 19% to 1.8 million; and churn falling to a record low of 7.6% annually. Furthermore, the total number of contracted pay-TV customers exceeded 5 million. ARPU in Q4 stood at PLN84, up 2.6% on 12 months earlier.

Commenting on the year, Tobias Solorz, CEO of Cyfrowy Polsat and Polkomtel, said: “In 2018 we are able to implement all our plans and assumptions while strengthening our position on pay-TV, telecommunications as well as TV broadcasting and production markets. We continued growth in the segment of multiplay services while offering a wide range of services and attractive bundles to our customers. Our success is best demonstrated by the figures – we have nearly 1.8 million multiplay customers who have bundled together nearly 5.4 million pay-TV, mobile telephony and internet access services. Plus was the leader in the MNP area, and it was the only infrastructural operator to have recorded positive MNP balance last year. For the first time in history we were providing in excess of 14 million contract services while the churn level continued to decrease and reached a record-low level of 7.6%, which is indicative of high satisfaction of our customers with the services we provide to them. We can confidently say that we have the most loyal customers. And we would like to thank them very much for their trust”

He added: “In 2018 our operations were effectively supported by our strategic acquisitions. Adding Netia to Cyfrowy Polsat Group enabled our companies to embark on operational cooperation in key areas. Fibre-optic internet access, offering transfer rates of up to 900 Mbps, has been added to our smartDOM loyalty program, while Netia’s TV offer has been extended to include new TV stations from Polsat TV’s rich portfolio of channels and the package including the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League matches. Acquisition of shares in Eleven Sports Network’s Polish operations resulted in strengthening of our premium sports offer”.

Prima aims to block time shift functions in pay-TV

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech national broadcaster FTV Prima plans to block some the features available by default to pay-TV operators in the coming months.

View back functionality should only be available for programmes that have broadcast rights settled for this purpose.

According to Rozhlas.cz, FTV Prima’s idea is that the pay-TV customers would not watch channels from operators’ list.

Instead, their set-top box would reach into FTV Prima’s database.

This would give the broadcaster control over what viewers are watching and potentially offer then in future such services as personalised advertising.

TVP targets Lithuania

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP has signed an agreement with Poland’s foreign ministry to launch a TV channel aimed at ethnic Poles in Lithuania.

In a statement, it says that work on the channel, known as TVP Wilno (‘TVP Vilnius’), has been taking place for a year.

It adds that the channel will be in the Polish language and produced by ethnic Poles in Lithuania.

Its offer will initially be based on TVP Polonia, the long-established channel targeting the Polish diaspora around the world.

In a separate development, TVP says that its supervisory board has suspended Piotr Palka, a member of its management board.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Eleven Sports extends Formula 1 Polish deal

By Chris Dziadul

Eleven Sports has extended its rights agreement with Formula 1 in Poland to the end of the 2022 season.

As a result, it will show all the action from every race weekend exclusively live throughout the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons. This is in addition to the current 2019 season which started in Australia last weekend.

Together with this renewed partnership, Eleven will sub-license highlights to Polsat and abridged live race programmes to TVP commencing from the 2019 season, which will provide extensive FTA coverage for the sport throughout the term.

The agreement also includes the broadcasting rights to FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 Championship and the Porsche Supercup Series, which commences in 2019 and concludes in 2022, and will be available on Polsat’s Sports Channels.

Commenting on the development, Michaella Snoeck, senior manager, media rights at Formula 1, said: “We are delighted to have extended our long-standing partnership with Eleven Sports for a further three seasons. Eleven Sports will broadcast a comprehensive offering made up of their high-quality on-site production and international feed coverage across their channels, which will be further enhanced by their sub-licensing partnership with both Polsat and Telewizja Polska SA, providing expanded FTA coverage to further support the growth of Formula 1 in Poland.”

Krzysztof Swiergiel, CEO of Eleven Sports in Poland, added: “With a big following of loyal fans who love the thrilling spectacle of Formula 1, the series has become a very important part of our premium offer in Poland. It has been a top priority to secure this extension and we are delighted that we will continue to cover every single lap with comprehensive, in depth coverage from every race weekend.”

O2 Czech promotes Pavel Milec

By Chris Dziadul

Pavel Milec has been appointed the new HR director at O2 in the Czech Republic.

He has also become a member of the board of directors of the O2 Foundation.

Milec joined O2 in 2007 as a project manager. He was director of customer satisfaction at O2 Slovakia in the years 2010-12 before returning to O2 Czech as director of call centres in 2013.

O2 is the leading IPTV operator in the Czech Republic.

Serbia Broadband extends TV service

By Chris Dziadul

Serbia Broadband (SBB) has made its TV offer available to everyone outside the SBB network via the new generation platform EON.

New customers who opt for EON can also access such advanced features as seven-day catch-up, a video service with over 14,000 titles and the ability to switch viewing from one device to another.

SBB is offering EON free of charge for a promotional period of 15 days, after which it costs RSD699 (€5.9) for the first six months on a two-year contract. Prepaid packages with online payment are also available for users who want flexibility.

Separately, SBB has announced that the channels CineStar TV Fantasy and CineStar TV Comedy&Family are being made available in HD from March 21.

Czech IPTV service set to expand

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech IPTV service sledovanitv.cz is considering adding Ultra HD channels to its offer, employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) from this year.

According to Rozhlas.cz, AI is available in 8K TVs and can convert lower image quality to higher. Samsung, for instance, is already addressing the absence of sufficient native content.

Rozhlas.cz adds that although 4K channels are available to Czech operators, none has so far included them in their offers.

Sledovanitv.cz aims to ideally be available in a unified form via the web, its own set-top boxes, mobile apps and internet-connected TVs.

It is already available on Samsung, Panasonic and LG (Netcast and WebOS) and has been on Hisense since 2016.It is supported on Android, iOS and Apple TV.

New DTH platform for Czech Republic and Slovakia

By Chris Dziadul

A new DTH platform named Fotelka TV will shortly make its debut in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Parabola reports that an unencrypted promotional loop of the service has already appeared on the capacity used by the Pantelio B2B platform on Hispasat 30W-5 at 30 degrees West.

It adds that Fotelka TV is operated by Nitranet and aims to provide viewers both linear and non-linear services, including a TV archive and video rental.

Its offer will include several packages, with the basic Czech and Slovak one costing €3.90, or CZK97.50 a month.

Reception of Fotelka TV will be possible with 60cm dishes.

Confusion shrouds Telekom Srbija Bosnian deals

By Chris Dziadul

The Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RAK BiH) may be at odds with the Competition Council in their approach to the acquisitions being undertaken by Telekom Srbija in the country.

Capital reports that according to information supplied by RAK, the cable operators Telrad from Bijeljina and BlicNet from Banja Luca are now owned by Telekom Srbija’s subsidiary Mtel, while the latter’s request to buy Elta kabel in Banja Luka has been rejected.

peaking in a press conference, Pedrag Kovac, the DG of RAK, said it was inappropriate for monopolies to arise and it was RAK’s task to ensure there were more market participants than at present. However, he did wish to discuss on what basis the Competition Council had rejected Mtel’s offer to buy Elta kabel.

It is also unclear if RAK undertook a market analysis and imposed regulatory measures, though the former may have been abandoned due to changes in EU rules.

There are concerns Mtel will achieve monopoly status by taking over smaller operators and it is unclear as to whether RAK or the Competition Council should address the issue.

Volia launches Foxnow in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

Ukraine’s leading cable operator Volia has made the on demand service Foxnow available to its subscribers.

Foxnow offers the best movies and TV shows from the Fox and Fox Life channels and can be watched anytime, anywhere and in HD on several mobile devices. It is also available in the Volia TV mobile app.

Commenting on the launch, Viktoria Tsomaya, the marketing director at Volia, said: “The introduction of the innovative service Foxnow gives our subscribers of interactive services access to the best world premieres simultaneously with the whole world, as well as the ability to watch series, films and shows in both the original language and translated. It is a pleasure that we were the first in Ukraine to implement this project in accordance with world standards of quality, genre diversity and licensability, which became possible thanks to the long-standing partnership with Fox Networks Group, the world leader in the production of TV and movie products”.

Rodion Printsevsky, general manager of Fox Networks Group in Northern Europe, added: “With the launch of Foxnow’s online service, our company is doing even more so that Ukrainian viewers feel as an integral part of the global television audience. We are the first to offer Volia subscribers the best world serials at a convenient time and in the best quality, which are now also available anywhere with the mobile application Volia TV”.

Foxnow can be found in the extended package of Volia’s OTT service.

Polish cable challenges access proposals

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish Chamber of Electronic Communications (PIKE) has issued a strongly worded statement criticising draft proposals by the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) that would open up the networks of the six leading cable operators to other parties.

According to PIKE, the negative effects of the draft proposals may affect up to 4.5 million households in Poland. If they come into force, customers will not be able to use the services of various operators providing TV, internet or telephony togther, and instead be forced to choose only one supplier. Investment in the development of high-speed internet is also at risk and the choice and diversity of services available to consumers will be limited.

PIKE notes that these proposals impose duties on only six selected cable operators, discrimating against these companies and the technology they employ. Furthermore, the publication of the draft decisions was not preceeded by market analyses as required by law.

There is also particular concern about the fact that UKE would impose expensive regulatory obligations on cable operators while deregulating the incumbent telco Orange. This may result in the remonopolisation of the market, restriction of competition and quality of services.

There is also a risk of loss of service continuity for existing customers. As a result of regulatory actions, they can be disconnected, either deliberately or accidentally. The effect of this may be to deprive many households of access to digital services.

Jerzy Straszewski, president of PIKE, said: “The currently proposed regulation of access to cables goes across infrastructural competition, degrades business models based on wholesale, commercial access to infrastructure, discourages investment in modern infrastructure and deepens infrastructural backwardness of our country, to the detriment of the entire economy. PIKE indicates that the proposed regulations will lead to the discrimination of cable operators, their clients and technology, and asks the president of UKE to call for a sound analysis of the effects of regulation and to give up far-reaching and harmful solutions for the market and consumers”.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, UKE launched its consulation in January this year.

The proposals would affect Netia, UPC Polska, Multimedia Polska, Vectra Investments, Inea and Toya.

Infomir claims copyright protection win

By Chris Dziadul

Infomir has claimed a victory in the fight to protect its MAG set-top boxes.

In a statement, it says that the administration of the Cabsat exhibition, which was held in Dubai, UAE from from March 12-14, discontinued the contract, shut down the booth and restricted access to the event to Shenzhen GYS Technology Co., Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer of IPTV devices.

The reason for this was a violation of the event’s policies and encroachment on the products of the Infomir group of companies.

It adds that Shenzhen GYS Technology products emulated Infomir’s MAG set-top boxes, which allowed them to utilise Infomir’s middleware, the software for managing IPTV/OTT projects. These devices also posed a threat to the normal operation of the MAG series of set-top boxes.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, in January this year the District Court in Bremen granted preliminary injunctions against two distributors selling Formuler set-top boxes in Germany. This, says Infomir, proved the fact of emulation of MAC addresses of MAG devices.

Infomir concludes by saying that it uses “all available methods to protect its rights against such infringements and to secure stable and reliable operation of its products”.

New role for Kira Laskari at National Media Group

By Chris Dziadul

Kira Laskari has been appointed the brand management director at Russia’s National Media Group (NMG).

Commenting on the development, Olga Paskina, general director of NMG, said: “One of the key elements of our strategy is the qualitative strengthening of each of the brands in the NMG portfolio. Effective brand management in our case involves not just a creative approach, but also a dynamic analysis of the situation, the ability to perform complex tasks in real time. Kira Lascari with his expertise, experience and talent is the best suited for this unique role, I am glad that he accepted this challenge, and I wish good luck.”

Laskari headed the channel CTC Love from March 2017 until the present. During that time, he oversaw the rebranding of the CTC and CTC Love channels, while at the same time the creation of the brands MoreTV, CTC Kids, NMG Studio and Media Telekom from scratch.

Meanwhile, Olga Zadorozhnaya has been appointed the acting director of CTC Love. She will combine this with the posution of programme director of CTC channels, which she has occupied since 2016.

Vyacheslav Murugov, general director of CTC Media, said: “Kira showed himself as a bright, extraordinary leader who is always looking for new ways to surprise the audience. I wish him success in the new duties! CTC Love is waiting for small changes, but the channel will retain all its basic basic features that have made it popular, the main one of which is endless faith in love. ”

Ukraine media ownership deadline approaches

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has reminded broadcasters and TV channels that the deadline for submitting details of their ownership is March 31.

In a statement, it says that failure to submit details or their late submission will result in them incurring a fine equivalent to 5% of their licence fee.

A requirement to submit ownership details to the National Council on an annual basis is in accordance with the law On Television and Radio Broadcasting, amended at the end of 2017.

TVP grows revenues and VOD service

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP saw its revenues from sponsorship and advertising grow by 13.7% in 2018.

According to Presservis, they amounted to PLN908 million (€211 million) and accounted for 47% of its revenues.

Meanwhile, receiver licence fees paid by viewers contributed PLN385.5 million, or 8.6% more than in 2017. In addition, TVP received PLN593.5 million in compensation for lost subscription fees in the period 2010-17. All told, subscription fee revenues were 57.5% higher in 2018 than in the previous year. TVP’s profit in 2018 amounted to PLN31.7 million.

Significantly, TVP has also disclosed that its TVP VoD Android application, which was launched in December 2017, was downloaded 573.4 thousand times up to the end of 2018, generating 18.9 million video plays. At the same time, the iOS version, released in February 2018, was downloaded 86.5 thousand times up until the end of the year, generating 2 million video plays.

Its TVP Sport mobile application was downloaded 676.2 thousand times last year, of which 44.3 thousand was during the World Cup.

Protestors storm RTS HQ

By Chris Dziadul

The building of the Serbian national broadcaster RTS has been stormed by people protesting against the country’s President Aleksandar Vucic.

Balkan Insight reports they were joined by leaders of the political opposition, who demanded that that the protest organisers should be allowed to speak live on air, but were eventually expelled by riot police.

In a subsequent press conference, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that all those who entered the building illegally would be prosecuted. He also said that the police had acted according to the law and did not resort to violence.

Meanwhile, President Vucic said that everyone who partakes in violence would be held accountable.

Protests against the government began in Belgrade last December but have since spread to other parts of the country.

Board changes at Cyfrowy Polsat

By Chris Dziadul

Dariusz Dzialkowski and Tomasz Gillner-Gorywoda have resigned from their positions of members of the management board at Poland’s Cyfrowy Polsat, effective March 31, 2019.

In a statement, the company says they did not give reasons for their resignations. It adds that Cyfrowy Polsat’s supervisory board has since appointed Jacek Felczykowski, an existing member of the board of Polkomtel, a member of the management board of Cyfrowy Polsat, effective April 1, 2019.

The company concludes by saying that Jacek Felczykowski does not conduct activities that are competitive to the operations of Cyfrowy Polsat and is not entered into the Registry of Insolvent Debtors held by the Registry Court.

Maciej Stanecki dismissed from TVP board

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s National Media Council (RMN) has dismissed Maciej Stanecki from the board of the Polish public broadcaster TVP.

At the same time, according to Presservis, it has appointed Marzena Paczuska and Piotr Palka as members of the TVP board.

Meanwhile, Jacek Kurski has retained his position as the president of TVP.

Paczuska has until now been an advisor to the president in the journalism and information department, while Palka has worked in TVP’s programming department since June 2018.

Rzeczpospolita has reported that the changes in TVP’s board are due to the country’s President Duda vetoing a bill on the financing of TVP.

Telemach monopoly challenged in Bosnia

By Chris Dziadul

The Association of Cable Operators and Distributors of Bosnia & Herzegovina (AKOP BiH) has called on state institutions to tackle the monopoly status enjoyed by Telemach.

Capital reports that despite the Council of Competition having ordered Telemach three years ago to make its channel Sport Klub available to all operators in the country, it has still failed to do so.

AKOP BiH cites the example of Slovenia, where the Telemach Group was forced to sell Sport Klub on the same basis to operators and no sports channel can be owned for two years.

AKOP BiH has also called on the sanctioning of those who violated the Public Service Act by preventing viewers watching a qualifying game for the World Cup in basketball.

It was only shown by a Luxembourg company whose ownership is unknown.

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