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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Antenna HungΓ‘ria outlines media platform strategy

By Chris Dziadul, MBT 2019, Budapest

Traditional TV remains dominant in Hungary, with SVOD penetration standing at only around 5%.

This, according to Gyöngyvér Gerlei, the company’s sales director, is in contrast to the West European average of 32%.

On the other hand, the pay-TV penetration in Hungary stands at 86%, as opposed to 80% in West Europe.

Speaking at MBT 2019, organised by Antenna Hungária in Budapest, Gerlei said that FTA still plays a significant role in Hungary, being received by 1.2 million viewers in around 580,000 households.

However, it faces challenges such as the freeing up of the 700MHz frequency band by 2020, expansion of fixed platforms and favourable triple-play offers; and 5G, which could also present opportunities.

Antenna Hungária’s answer to this is to create an integrated media platform.

Its three elements are expanding free TV; rethought pay-TV; and OTT. HbbTV plays a key role and the platform is directly connected to and in sync with linear TV. It offers rich functionality and allows for the development of an IPTV-like package.

OTT: contrasting behaviour in US and Europe

By Chris Dziadul, MBT 2019, Budapest

Cord cutting is a real problem in the US, while in Europe the pay-TV market has stalled, said Yan Mostovoy, director, C&D Solutions, Harmonic.

Speaking at MBT 2019 in Budapest, Mostovoy highlighted the fact that most cord cutters in the US were moving to linear OTT. In the period 2016-17, traditional pay-TV lost 5.7 million subscribers, with linear OTT gaining 4.5 million over the same period.

At the end of 2017 linear OTT represented 6% of the pay-TV market.

Meanwhile in Europe, there is no major evidence of cord cutting despite the pay-TV market having stalled, with the main reason being price.

While pay-TV ARPU in the US is €80/month and linear OTT €30 a month, in Europe pay-TV ARPU is €15 a month, with only six countries being above €25 a month.

Mostovoy also said that linear OTT is growing in Europe but specifically in sports.

Linear OTT platforms are growing differently and instead of Linear 2.0 in Europe we find niche OTT applications gaining traction rapidly.

Slovakia seeks DTT β€œcontinuity”

By Chris Dziadul

The Slovak Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (RU) has issued a tender for the country’s first DTT multiplex, the licence for which is currently held by Towercom.

In a statement, it says the tender, which will be conducted without an electronic auction, will be to build a new digital terrestrial network on the multiplex using the DVB-T2 standard while at the same time ensuring the continuity of the existing network.

Applications must be lodged by post or in person by 13.30 on June 27, 2019.

The criteria include a requirement to build and put into operation the network by May 31, 2021; and making a one-time payment of €500,000.

RU will operate a points-based system the successful candidate.

Nagra gives perspective on piracy

By Chris Dziadul, MBT 2019, Budapest

Piracy resulted in the loss of $28 billion of pay-TV revenue worldwide in 2017, according to Zan Godec, senior business development director, Nagra.

Speaking at MBT 2019 in Budapest, he added that 72% of operators see the value in anti-piracy efforts. Godec argued that there is no silver bullet to tackle piracy, which even affects FTA broadcasters.

Instead, there are legal actions, technological solutions, industry coordination, policy lobbying and consumer education.

For its part, Nagra offers a comprehensive suite of anti-piracy measures addressing social media, apps and web; broadcast (CWS) and streaming; commercial IPTV, Kodi; and linear sports and VOD.

MTS gains in Moscow pay-TV market

By Chris Dziadul

MTS ended the first quarter with 2,934,000 TV customers in its home market, Russia.

This, according to the company’s latest set of results was up from the 1,875,000 figure posted a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the MGTS (B2C and B2B) and GPON customer total at the end of Q1 was 1,979,000, up from 1,875,000 a year earlier.

In its results, the company notes that according to internal estimates its broadband market share in Moscow grew to 39% in Q1. At the same time, its pay-TV market share grew by 43.6%.

MTS group as a whole had revenues of R118 billion (€1.64 billion) in Q1 or 9.4% more than a year earlier.

Its OIBDA was R55.3 billion (+6%) and net profit R17.6 billion (+14.1%).

5G: a pointer to terrestrial TV’s future

By Chris Dziadul, MBT 2019, Budapest

5G broadcast will play a central role in securing the long-term future of terrestrial broadcasting.

Moreover, according to Michael Wagenhofer, CEO, ORS, it will complement DVB-T2 networks and in some cases even substitute them.

Speaking at MBT 2019 in Budapest, Wagenhofer said that broadcast distribution currently finds itself at a crossroads, moving to either “broadband takes it all” or “5G broadcast” scenarios.

While the former includes such elements as dependence on the network operators, decreasing quality and unregulated costs, the latter would see a global technical standard for the first time in TV history, the combination of multicast and unicast, shared broadcast and nationwide coverage.

There would also be three essential pillars to create a 5G broadcast ecosystem, namely demonstrating the need for 5G broadcast, a regulatory framework and long-term frequency spectrum availability for broadcasting after 2030.

Meanwhile, also speaking at MBT 2019, Lars Backlund, secretary general, BNE, provided a more cautious view on 5G and terrestrial TV.

Although 5G broadcast may complement DTT in the future, there are still many questions that need to be answered.

5G divisions surface in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has criticised draft plans for the development of 5G in the country.

Kommersant reports that it is opposed to the creation of a single operator, arguing that this would lead to monopolism, stagnation and the loss of revenue from potential frequency auctions by the state.

The draft plans have been developed by the Ministry of Communications and Mass Communications and have at their heart the creation of a single infrastructure operator in the form of a consortium to which the state would allocate the entire radio frequency spectrum reserved for 5G.

In the ministry’s view, this would be the least expensive option, costing between R54-55 billion (€752-765 million) up to 2024 rather than between R101-161 billion.

However, FAS believes this is risky for the state, business and consumers. While not rejecting the idea of a consortium, it also says that resources should be allocated separately to each telco operator.

Significantly, a joint company for the development of 5G has already been set up by Rostelecom and MegaFon. It intends to shortly start testing the technology.

Poland makes cable infrastructure access ruling

By Chris Dziadul

The president of the Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) has issued decisions specifying the terms of access to the infrastructure of the country’s six largest cable operators.

In a statement, the regulator says that the key element of the decision are “conditions for providing access to telecommunications infrastructure in the field of telecommunications cables in multi-family buildings” They constitute a universal set of rules and rules in the field of access to the telecommunications entrepreneur’s infrastructure, including telecommunications cables.

It adds that the decisions are part of UKE’s strategic activities in the period 2017-2023 and aimed at promoting joint investments, supporting the construction and sharing of infrastructure and ensuring effective inter-operator cooperation.

They are taken to implement the assumptions of the European Digital Agenda and the Europe 2020 Strategy, bringing Poland closer to the gigabit society.

UKE also says that the decisions were preceded by an analysis in which its president took into account all the gathered evidence.

It concludes by saying that the decisions, which affect Netia, UPC Polska, Muktimedia Polska, Vectra Investments, Inea and Toya, are not final.

Volia CEO Gyorgy Zsembery to step down

By Chris Dziadul

Gyorgy Zsembery, the CEO of Ukraine’s leading cable operator Volia, is to leave the post on July 1.

Although he will take up a new appointment outside the country, Zsembery, who has been CEO for the past six years, will continue to contribute to the development of the company as vice chairman of the board.

The role of CEO will be assumed by Anton Dzyubenko, who was the director of interaction with clients at Volia up until September 2017.

He then headed by the Providence-owned TV Play Baltic, which operates in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Russian ad market slows

By Chris Dziadul

TV ad spend in Russia in Q1 was 6% lower than in the corresponding period last year.

According to data produced by the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (AKAR) and published by RBC, it amounted to R41.5-42 billion (€575.4 -582.3 million).

Ad spend for radio (-5%) and press (-12%) were also lower, while that for outdoor (+3%) and the internet (+18%) grew.

All told, ad spend for the five main media grew by only 4% to reach R111 billion, while in Q1 2018 it grew by 13%.

Although the situation for TV ad spend is expected to improve in the second quarter, it is predicted to remain flat for the year as a whole.

Last month the Russian office of Dentsu Aegis Network forecast ad spend as a whole this year to grow by 4.5% to R490.1 billion, thanks mostly to a two-digit increase in internet ad spend.

Meanwhile, GroupM has given a more pessimistic forecast of R483.5 billion, with TV ad spend growing by only 1%.

Chinese increase Czech TV investment

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech media entrepreneur Jaromir Soukup and China International Group Corporation (CIGL) have increased the share capital of the Empresa Media group, whose interests include the broadcaster Barrandov TV.

According to Digizone, it has been raised from CZK20 million (€776,000) to CZK110 million.

At the same time, Soukup will remain the main shareholder, with a 51% stake in the company.

The two parties have also increased the share capital of the media agency Medea from CZK200 million to CZK486 million, with Soukup retaining a 70% interest.

Quoting information published by info.cz, Digizone also reports that Soukup had originally intended to reduce the Chinese interest in the two companies.

Romanian telco market expands

By Chris Dziadul

Romania’s telecom market grew by 1.3% in 2018 and was worth RON16.1 billion (€3.5 billion), according to the latest data published by the regulator ANCOM.

The figure was equivalent to 1.7% of the country’s GDP.

ANCOM adds that on average each Romanian generated a monthly income of nearly RON60 for companies providing electronic communication services, or 2% more than in the previous year. Meanwhile, ARPU per household stood at RON179, up 1.3% on the 2017 figure.

The biggest growth was seen in the fixed and mobile and internet sectors, where revenues rose by 12% to reach 4.8 billion. The rebroadcasting of services accounted for RON2.1 billion, fixed telephony RON1.5 billion (-10%) and mobile telephony RON6.5 billion (-3.4%).

ANCOM notes that the market leader in the telco sector had a share of 27%, with its two closest competitors claiming 24% and 21% respectively and other suppliers a combined 28%.

Edyta Sadowska to head nc+

By Chris Dziadul

Edyta Sadowska has been appointed the president and CEO of the Polish DTH platform nc+, effective June 1.

She will replace Manuel Rougeron, who joined the company in December 2013 and will remain a special advisor to the nc+ board until the end of this July.
On August 1 he will join the Canal+ International team in Paris and take the position of executive VP for the Asia-Pacific markets. He will also be appointed to the supervisory board of nc+.

Edyta Sadowska has been a member of the nc+ board as VP for programming since February 2018. She was previously associated with, amongst others, Ringier Axel Springer Poland, where she held the position of president of the board.

Then, as a board member of the merged Onet-RAS Polska group (Ringier Axel Springer, One.pl, Media Impact Polska) she was responsible for the building and implementing development strategy and the digital transformation of the largest press and online media titles.

New role for Gabor Harsanyi at Viacom

By Chris Dziadul

Gabor Harsanyi has been appointed VP, general manager for VIMN Central Eastern Europe and Israel (CEEI).

Harsanyi has been with VIMN since 2012 in various senior Commercial and Content Distribution Management (CDM) roles, and most recently held the position of VP, CDM, CEEI and country manager for Hungary.

He has been instrumental in a number of achievements including the multiplication of VIMN’s cumulative number of households and affiliate revenues in CEEI, as well as the recent launch of Paramount Plus and Nickelodeon Play VOD products across the region.

Commenting on the appointment, James Currell, president of VIMN UK, Northern and Eastern Europe, said: “Our CEEI business has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years and with Gábor’s accomplishments, deep local knowledge, strong management credentials and passion for the Viacom brands, we are now perfectly positioned to take this business to the next level”.

For the past few months, VIMN CEEI region’s GM responsibilities have been covered by Elena Balmont on an interim basis, in addition to her permanent role of SVP, GM, Russia, CIS, Ukraine and Baltics. With the appointment of Gabor Harsanyi as VP, GM, VIMN CEEI, the two regions continue to be managed separately. Harsanyi in his VP, GM, VIMN CEEI role will be responsible for Viacom’s operations in all 14 territories within Central Eastern Europe, as well as in Israel.

The general manager VIMN CEEI will be supported by two country managers: Katarzyna Samojluk, VP, finance, VIMN CEI, who has been appointed as country manager for Poland; and Richard Finer, senior legal counsel, VIMN CEEI, who continues to oversee Viacom’s Israeli operations as country manager for Israel.

Viacom promotes Katarzyna Samojluk

By Chris Dziadul

Katarzyna Samojluk has been promoted to the position of VP, finance for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel (CEEI), as well as country manager VIMN Polska.

She has been associated with the position of VP, finance at Viacom since 2014 and had over 15 years of working in an international environment in such areas as strategic business planning, financial and management accounting, change management and restructuring of local activities.

Prior to joining Viacom, Samojluk held financial and customer service positions at Eli Lilly Polska, where she eventually took the position of finance director.

Samojluk has held her new positions at Viacom on a temporary basis for several months.

Meanwhile, Elena Balmont has and will continue to be the SVP, GM for Russia, CIS, Ukraine and the Baltics.

Samojluk will report directly to Gabor Harsanyi, VP, general manager VIMN for CEEI.

Harsanyi, who was recently promoted to his current position, has been with VIMN since 2012 in various senior Commercial and Content Distribution Management (CDM) roles, and most recently held the position of VP, CDM, CEEI and country manager for Hungary.

Romanian pay-TV: the stats

By Chris Dziadul

The number of pay-TV subscribers in Romania increased by 3% in 2018, according to the latest figures published by the regulator ANCOM.

As of the end of the year there were a total 7.64 million, with DTH down 5%, cable up 6% and IPTV up 13% on a year earlier.

It adds that there are currently around 7.5 million households in Romania compared to 9 million homes.

While the pay-TV penetration was 102 per 100 households at the end of 2018, it was 85% per 100 homes.

In urban areas it was 106% per 100 households and 97% in rural ones, and 91% in urban areas for homes and 77% in rural ones.

In 2018, cable services were most popular in urban areas (83% of subscribers), while in rural areas there was of 50/49 split between DTH and cable.

In terms of subscriber numbers, the market leader had a 49% market share, with the main competitor claiming 19% and other providers a combined 32%.

Major distribution change for Russia’s Channel One

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Channel One has found a new partner for the distribution of its content outside the country.

According to Kommersant, it is VDM Vela Digital Media, which belongs to Andrei Shlyakovoy, the former owner of the Agrosoyuz Bank.

VDM Vela Digital Media will now distribute Channel One’s international channel, as well as thematic services, on OTT platforms in the US, Canada, Israel and 25 European countries.

Although Channel One previously worked with Kartina.TV in the distribution of its services outside Russia, the cooperation stopped at the end of 2018.

Latvian Police clamp down on piracy

By Chris Dziadul

The Latvian State Police have detained a group of persons for the illegal distribution of TV services in the capital, Riga, and surrounding area.

In a statement, they say that four individuals are suspected in engaging in the activity in the period 2013-19.

Using cardsharing, along with a satellite dish, internet connection and specially configured receiver, they provided around 10,000 households with unlicensed TV content.

If convicted, the detainees face up to four years imprisonment, temporary deprivation of liberty, forced labour or a fine.

Digi grows customer base

By Chris Dziadul

Digi Communications ended the first quarter with 4.1 million cable RGUs, or 14.1% more than in the same period last year.

At the same time, its fixed internet RGU total grew by 19.2% to 3.3 million.

In its latest set of results, the company notes that Romania remains its main market, generating 64.4% of revenues, followed by Hungary (19.6%), Spain (14%) and Italy (2%).

In Romania, its cable RGU total grew by 10.3% to 3.4 million in the year to March 31.

In Hungary, Digi’s revenues were strengthened by Invitel, growing to €55 million in Q1.

Digi also strengthened its leading position in the pay-TV market and was the second leading provider of fixed internet services.

Furthermore, it noted a 56% increase, to 2.1 million RGUs, in the fixed-line (pay-TV, internet, fixed telephone) services, in the year to March 31.

The Digi Communications group had revenues of €281.2 million (+20.8%) in Q1, while its adjusted EBITDA was €90.7 million (+17.1%).

ER-Telecom starts year strongly

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian cable operator ER-Telecom saw a 3.1% increase in its B2C subscriber total in the year to March 31.

In its latest set of results, the company says that as of the end of Q1 it had a total of 6,942,000 active customers. Meanwhile, its consolidated revenue increased by 13% year-on-year to R10,543 million (€145.7 million) and EBITDA by 42% to R4,157 million.

The company’s net profit amounted to R814 million.

In his comments on the results, ER Telecom’s president Andrei Kuzyaev said: “ER-Telecom continues to grow and develop in accordance with the approved strategy. We set ourselves the task to increase the volume of our services and constantly create additional value for our customers. In the first quarter of 2019, the holding’s revenue grew by 13%. EBITDA continues to grow faster than revenue. Its growth was 42%. The key growth factor, as before, is the B2B business based on providing digital services to our customers. ”