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Today โ€” March 30th 2020Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Andrei Lipov to head Roskomnadzor

By Chris Dziadul

Andrei Lipov has been appointed the head of the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor.

He takes over from Andrei Zharov, who last week became the general director of Gazprom-Media. Lipov has 30 years of experience in the field of information technology and communications.

From 1990 to 2007, he worked at various positions in this field. Since 2008, Lipov worked in the Department of State Policy in the Field of Informatization and Information Technologies of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation. Starting from the position of deputy head of the development programs department and gradually receiving promotions, in 2010 he headed the entire department.

Prior to his appointment as head of Roskomnadzor, Lipov in 2012 led the department for the application of information technology and the development of e-democracy, which in 2018 was renamed the Office of the President of Russia on Information and Communication Technologies and Communication Infrastructure.

Svetlana Balanova joins Gazprom-Media

By Chris Dziadul

Svetlana Balanova has been to appointed the new position of first deputy DG of Russia’s Gazprom-Media.

Prior to joining the holding, she spent nine years at IBS, one of the leading IT service companies in Russia.

Commenting on the appointment, Gazprom-Media general director Alexander Zharov said: I am very glad that Svetlana Balanova has joined our team. Her knowledge and competencies in the field of high technologies and digital transformation will undoubtedly be in demand, taking into account the digital vector of the holding’s development.”

EBU makes Ukrainian pubcaster appeal

By Chris Dziadul

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has written to the Ukrainian government to urge them not to reduce the budget of its member UA:PBC.

In a statement, the EBU says the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is planning to substantially reduce the public broadcaster’s funding. which could critically undermine its ability to operate in the future.
It adds that while it understands the extraordinary pressures created by the fight against COVID-19, public service media (PSM) has a critical role to play in keeping the public informed with trusted and verified news and helping to educate children while schools are closed.

EBU continues that despite the lack of sufficient protective tools for its journalists, UA:PBC has mobilised all its efforts and resources to help the state in the fight against coronavirus by informing and educating citizens and broadcasting important updates and announcements.

In addition, the broadcaster is actively engaged in optimising its structure, governance and operations in order to deliver services to citizens in the most efficient way and to be transparent in its spending of public money.

The EBU says that UA:PBC requires the full support of the state to ensure adequate funding and resources to produce high quality content and fulfil its important role in society.

Over the last few years, UA:PBC has experienced continuous underfunding, which has impacted negatively on its development and investment in new technology and platforms. This is in contradiction to European standards, and in particular Recommendation 1878 (2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe on funding of public service broadcasting, which requires adequate long-term funding’ for PSM.

It has already been a huge challenge for UA:PBC to operate and reform with only half its expected budget. The recent freezing of UA:PBC’s accounts, following a Ministry of Justice’s ruling, further exacerbates the situation and has resulted in the suspension of the launch of important new projects, most notably in the domain of news.

The EBU concludes by urging the Ukrainian government to find a suitable resolution to ensure UA:PBC can continue serve society at such a critical time.

Harmonic promotes Velimir Godec

By Chris Dziadul

Velimir Godec has been appointed sales director, cable Eastern Europe at Harmonic.

Godec joined Harmonic in March 2013 and was initially strategic accounts and new business development manager, Balkans.

He was in the position until August 2017 and the following month became the regional sales manager, South East Europe.

Prior to Harmonic Godec was with Teleste for eight years and seven months, where his last position, held for four years, was VP sales CEE region.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Hungary awards 5G licences

By Chris Dziadul

The Hungarian regulator NMHH has announced the result of a tender for 5G licences in the country.

In a statement, it says that the licences, valid for 15 years in three frequency bands, have been awarded to Magyar Telekom, Telenor Hungary and Vodafone Hungary. It adds that in total the three companies will pay HUF128 billion (€360.4 million) for the rights.

NMHH notes that the bids received by March 11 for the 700 MHz, 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz bands revealed that there was more demand than supply. It therefore held auctions for the blocks offered, subject to strict precautions. The three service providers were able to bid for a number of frequency blocks within each frequency band, starting with the initial bid value specified in the documentation for that band. The auction was preceded by a trial auction on March 24.

Karas Monika, chairman of NMHH, said: “5G frequency services will play a key role in economic development and, in the short term, can effectively support our healthcare network, domestic telework and distance education, even in times of coronavirus restrictions. And in the post-epidemic period, they can accelerate the recovery of the Hungarian economy.”

To this end, NMHH will encourage service providers to install 5G at locations that are not only important to them from a market point of view but are also socially important, such as the internet. hospitals, campuses or major transport routes.

The usage rights of the acquired frequencies will expire uniformly in 2035. The 700 MHz frequency band will only be available once this band has definitively moved out, ie not earlier than September 6, 2020.

The term of the rights may be extended once for a further period of five years, subject to unchanged conditions and without a single additional fee being charged for the right of use of the frequency.

Stanislav Georgiev to head Bulsatcom

By Chris Dziadul

Stanislav Georgiev has been appointed the CEO of the Bulgarian pay-TV operator Bulsatcom.

He spent a total of 7 years and 11 months at A1 Telekom Austria Group, where he was head of A1 Group Media Broadcast between September 2014 and January 2019.

More recently he was a senior advisor at Arthur D. Little between February 2019 and February this year.

He remains a managing partner at Media Gurus Group and chairman of the Digital Entertainment & Media Summit at Webit.Foundation.

Tricolor inks major ViacomCBS deal

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor has agreed a major licensing deal with ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.

It gives the operator rights to broadcast over 120 films from Paramount Pictures’ library and these will be shown on Tricolor’s own channels. The studio granted the operator rights to broadcast films not only via satellite, but also simultaneously via the internet. Some of that content will be shown on Tricolor’s UHD channel Cinema UHD where viewers can enjoy Ultra HD entertainment from their homes and computers.

Commenting on the agreement, Arsen Khomutov, content director for Tricolor, said: “This new deal for Paramount Pictures films makes our content offer for clients even more diverse. Movies from one of the world’s leading studios will allow us to increase the audience of our own channels; it is especially important for Tricolor, since we are now focusing on niche channels”.

Lisa Kramer, executive VP, International Television Licensing, ViacomCBS, added: “We are delighted to be extending our relationship with Tricolor with this new agreement and look forward to bringing some of our most popular and exciting films to Tricolor’s many subscribers”.

Tricolor and Paramount Pictures have successfully cooperated for several years. Most recently, in December 2019 the operator signed a deal with the studio for over 100 films to be shown via SVOD on Tricolor’s own online cinema platform, with limited exclusivity for certain movies.

Steady year for Gazprom-Media

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Gazprom-Media saw its revenues grow by 3% to R98.1 billion (€1.16 billion) in 2019.

At the same time, according to its owner Gazprombank’s latest set of results, its adjusted net loss amounted to R3.8 billion.

Gazprom-Media’s non-advertising revenues grew by 23% to R27.3 billion, while advertising revenues fell by 3% to R70.8 billion.

The latter figure compared well to the Russian TV ad market as a whole, which AKAR says fell by 6% in 2019, and individual channels saw ad revenue growth. Pyatnitsa’s, for instance, increased by 12.4% and TV-3’s by 6%.

Non-advertising revenues grew thanks mainly to the sale of rights and the distribution of Gazprom-Media content in various media environments.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Gazprom-Media’s OTT service Premier ended this January with 1.6 million subscribers, or twice as many as a year earlier.

Fibre dominates Moldovan fixed broadband market

By Chris Dziadul

The number of fixed broadband connections in Moldova increased by 7.6% to 670,500 in 2019.

According to the regulator ANRCETI, the majority (452,300) opted for FTTx, up 14.7% on a year earlier, while those who chose cable rose by 20.6% to 53,000.

At the same time, the number of xDSL subscribers fell by 10.5% to around 163,000, while those using other technologies decreased by 28% to 1,700.

The penetration rate of fixed broadband services per 100 inhabitants increased by 2.2 percentage points to 25%.

Meanwhile, the number of subscribers who opted for connections of over 100Mbps increased by 64.4% to around 103,000 and those choosing 30-100Mbps increased by 9.2% to just over 370,000.

At the lower end, the number with connections of 10-30Mbps fell by 10.1% to around 175,000. There were 97 active providers of fixed broadband services in Moldova in 2019 and their sales increased by 5.7% in the year to MDL1,361.7 million (€69.28 million).

Orange Moldova noted the highest increase (56.3%), followed by StarNet (+8.6%) and Moldtelecom (+3.6%).

At the same time, the combined sales total of the remaining providers fell by 4.9%. ARPU fell by 1.6% to MDL176.1.

The average market shares of the leading fixed broadband providers were 62.6% Moldtelecom, followed by 21.5% for StarNet and 5.6% for Orange Moldova.

The average market share of the other providers was 10.3%.

Ukraine launches content exchange project

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has announced the launch of a TV content exchange project.

Operating at a time when it has hard to create and purchase content during the pandemic, Media Change Ukraine is a content database that can be accessed by any TV company in the country.

The database will be filled by the companies themselves and several including TV5, TV7, MTV, 34 Telekanal and Central Telekanal have already signed up.

National Council says that the conditions for participating in the project are very simple: registering, regulating the right to use the content, without payment, without transfer to third parties, without using the internet – only by the means stipulated by licences of the National Council for the period of quarantine, established by the central authorities or emergency/condition.

The idea of Media Change Ukraine was developed and curated by the National Council member Maxim Onoprienko.

Croatia delays DVB-T2 transition

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian regulator HAKOM has put back the deadline for discontinuing broadcasts in DVB-T/MPEG-2 and transitioning to DVB-T2 for at least six months.

In a statement, it says that all residents in the country will be able to continue watching TV programmes with existing equipment until the new transition date, which will not be before the end of November or beginning of December 2020.

HAKOM adds that the public will be notified of the exact time of the transition in due course and in the meantime its council will decided to amend all necessary licences for the use of the radio frequency spectrum for terrestrial TV under the same conditions.

HAKOM says that the decision to postpone has been taken due to the coronavirus crisis and how it will significantly affect the availability of receivers to the Croatian population.

At this point it is most important to ensure continuous information for all residents, as well as providing classes for all students through TV programmes.

Viasat provides Ukrainian anti-piracy update

By Chris Dziadul

Viasat estimates that more than one million satellite TV viewers in Ukraine continue to use pirated services to gain access to domestic TV channels.

It adds that following the encryption of satellite signals by the country’s leading media groups on January 29, the state, together with the media groups and satellite operators, has started a new stage of the active fight against card sharing and other illegal activities.

In the coming weeks, Viasat will shut down the NDS encoding system, which does not meet the latest satellite broadcast security standards, and replace it with the Verimatrix system.

Commenting on this development, Viasat Ukraine’s sales director Anton Yuriev said: “In order to provide tuners with the necessary tuners on time, Viasat has replaced the old tuners with new tuners that support Verimatrix encoding system, so they can fully enjoy watching their favourite TV products without having to worry about a sudden shutdown. We hope that thanks to the joint efforts of all participants in the television market, and first of all – subscribers who deliberately choose the legal route – pirated television will disappear as a phenomenon, and it will happen in the near future”.

Slovak pubcaster puts back sports channel launch

By Chris Dziadul

The Slovak public broadcaster RTVS has postponed the launch of a new sports channel indefinitely.

Quoting Teleradio, Medialne reports that the channel, which would have been RTVS’s fourth, was due to go on air in June.

It will now not do so due to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of a number of events in the coming months.

The start of the channel was due to coincide with Euro 2020, which would have begun on June 12, with another key event being the Tokyo Olympics. However, both have now been put back to 2021.

According to Matej Hajko, the head of RTRVS’s sports department, it would at this stage be “extremely irresponsible” to announce a specific launch date for the new channel and enter into any further financial commitments.

TVP launches virtual education channels

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP has launched virtual education channels in partnership with TVP ABC, the Warsaw Uprising Museum and National Education Ministry.

They form part of the eSzkola (eSchool) strand on the TVP VOD platform and are aimed at students and children at home.

On air for four hours daily on weekdays between 9.00 and 13.00 and repeated from 16.00 to 20.00, ‘Domowe przedszkole’ (Home preschool) is available via HbbTV on the eighth multiplex and at VOD.tvp.pl.

ESzkola, like Domowe przedszkole, is also is available via HbbTV on the eighth multiplex and at VOD.tvp.pl.

Speaking to the local industry press, TVP said it plans to launch more virtual services if there is a social need to do so.

However, it also acknowledged that HbbTV services do not reach all viewers.

Vodafone TV debuts in Czech Republic

By Chris Dziadul

Vodafone has announced the launch of a Czech version of its digital TV service.

Vodafone TV offers viewers a choice of three programme packages – Classic (over 55 TV channels), Comfort (over 110 TV channels) and Komplet (over 130 TV channels) – costing CZK150 (€5.43), CZK300 and CZK600 a month respectively, including set-top box rental.

The service includes such features a seven-day catch-up, play/pause and 100 hours recording time.

In addition, Vodafone has introduced, as of Tuesday, March 24 and valid until April 14, an expanded TV offer free of charge. It includes the kids channels NickToons, Nick J., Nickelodeon, Minimax, JimJam, Disney Channel, ducktv and Cartoon Network, as well as documentaries and sports programmes, including the FilmBox premium channels.

Commenting on the Vodafone TV launch, Quique Vivas, VP for non-business customers at Vodafone Czech Republic, said: “There’s no need to go anywhere for a new TV, just order it and everything will come by mail. Today, after Sky, Vodafone is the second largest TV provider in Europe, and it was only a matter of time before Vodafone TV was launched in the Czech Republic. I’m glad we did it right now. We combine the best of classic TV and video library.

“Vodafone TV viewers will enjoy a simple and intuitive user interface, as well as our own set-top box firmware, which means a very fast response to instructions. The set-top box is also ready for high definition 4K images”.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Vodafone Czech Republic, in conjunction with UPC, planned to launch a Czech version of Vodafone TV late this month.

Gazprom-Media confirms Alexander Zharov appointment

By Chris Dziadul

The board of directors at Russia’s Gazprom-Media has appointed Alexander Zharov the general director, effective March 24 and for a period of three years.

Prior to joining the company, he was head of the regulator Roskomnadzor for eight years. Commenting on the appointment, Alexei Miller, chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom-Media Holding, said: “Traditional media are going through a stage of rapid changes under the influence of new technologies and increasing competition. Our task is to strengthen the leading position of the holding in changing conditions. Large-scale digital transformation and the use of the potential of the “big Gazprom” should be the most important success factors. The experience of Alexander Alexandrovich Zharov, gained over the years of supervision of the field of information technology and communications, his whole, broad view of Russian media and a deep understanding of the processes occurring in the industry, are designed to successfully solve the tasks.”

Alexander Zharov added: “I am very grateful to the shareholders and the board of directors of Gazprom-Media for the trust placed in me. I am ready to apply all my knowledge and experience for the benefit of the company. I carefully monitor the activities of the creative teams that make up the holding, and I pay tribute to their high professionalism. I can assure you that I will always adhere to the principles of mutual respect and openness in the management of the holding and its structures.”

Gazprom-Media was headed by Dmitry Chernyshenko since 2015.

On January 21, 2020, he was appointed deputy PM in the government of Mikhail Mishustin.

Vodafone TV, Kyivstar open up in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

Vodafone TV is offering the popular Amediathek package, which features world premieres of popular films and series, free of charge to all its subscribers in Ukraine for 14 days.

It is also making streaming radio, as well as the news channel Ukraina 24, available for free.

Vodafone TV is available on mobile device and tablets (iOS), smart TVs (Samsung and LG), home PCs and laptops through tv.vodafone. It can be accessed on up to five devices.

Separately, Kyivstar TV and 1+1 Media have made access to the video library for all users of the service free until April 5.

The service includes news and children’s TV channels, as well as ivi’s library, which contains 7,000 films and TV shows.

Pavol Miller to leave ducktv

By Chris Dziadul

Mega Max Media’s executive director Pavol Miller has decided to leave the company at the end of this month.

Commenting on his decision, he said: “It has been honour to work on building, selling and executing ducktv from the scratch and making the business story successful. Amazing 13 years of constant growth, I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved in establishing ducktv as a well known toddlers channel serving audience in more than 150 countries around the world. I wish Mega Max Media another great and fruitful decade. I am looking forward to new opportunities that will our industry offer.”

Miller has over 20 years of experience in the industry and has held executive and sales positions in HBO CEE and UPC.

Jacek Kunicki new Orange Polska CFO

By Chris Dziadul

Jacek Kunicki has been appointed the executive director in charge of finance at the Polish incumbent Orange Polska, effective March 31.

At the same time, Maciej Nowochonski is to evolve his responsibilities as a management board member and will now be in charge of carriers market and real estate sales.

He was previously in charge of finance and since February 6 also in charge of carriers market.

Orange Polska says that the decision to appoint Kunicki as an executive director follows a meeting of the supervisory board of Orange Polska which due to COVID-19 epidemic threat was held entirely remotely. The agenda of the meeting included voting on nomination of Kunicki as management board member. However, according to Polish law this vote could not take place, given the physical absence of the supervisory board members.

Commenting on the appointment, the chairman of the supervisory board of Orange Polska Maciej Witucki said: “Unfortunately circumstances forced today’s supervisory board meeting to be held remotely, which did not allow for a vote on the appointment of Jacek Kunicki to the management board. However, in the course of our discussion it was clear to me that the Supervisory Board intends to approve this nomination at the next in-person meeting. This nomination has my support also.”

Orange Polska CEO Jean-François Fallacher added: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Maciej and Jacek. For the past six years, Maciej has successfully steered Orange Polska’s finances through the implementation of our strategy and return to growth. He was also responsible for a significant acceleration of disposals of real estate as part of a transformation of the company’s assets. Maciej will now fully take over our wholesale operations, including the exploration of new business opportunities (e.g. Fibreco project). He will also continue to be responsible for real estate disposals. Jacek’s nomination as CFO is a natural internal succession that recognises his competences. For the past six years, as chief controller Jacek has worked very closely with Maciej and other board members, which ensures that the finance area will undergo a smooth transition. His previous experience in investor relations will be an additional asset in his new role. I am confident that our management board will be stronger as we design our new strategy.”

Kunicki has worked in Orange Polska since 2003, holding a number of managerial positions of growing responsibility within the finance area, in particular he was the director of investor relations from 2010 to 2014 and Orange Polska group chief controller from 2014. He is a supervisory board member of Networks! and Teltech entities (part of Orange Polska Group). Before joining Orange, he worked in the finance team of a telecom Energis Polska.

NTV-Plus goes free

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s NTV-Plus is making all its services on DTH and OTT platforms available free of charge throughout the country until April 30.

In a statement, it says that until that date 190 TV channels of the most popular genres are being offered for free to all Russian residents who were not previously NTV-Plus subscribers.

The channels are also free to all subscribers who previously had a satellite subscription and retained NTV-Plus reception equipment.

New and existing NTV-Plus subscribers are until April 30 also being offered free online access to the Cinema Mood package.

In addition, internet subscribers can watch the national channels carried on the first and second multiplexes for free.

The internet service NTV-Plus TV can be viewed on mobile devices (iOS/tvOS and Android/Android TV), smart TVs and on the ntvplus.tv website.

NTV-Plus is the longest established DTH platform in Russia, having made its debut in the mid 1990s.

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