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Today β€” September 18th 2018Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Orange counters UPC FTTH claims

By Chris Dziadul

Orange has accused UPC of falsely claiming to be offering a 1Gbps FTTH service in Poland.

In a release, the company says it has devoted “a lot of work, time and money” to make fibre-optics synonymous with the best and fastest internet. It goes on to say that UPC does not offer true FTTH, instead bringing fibre-optic close to buildings and then using coaxial cable to reach customers. What is more, UPC is really using DOCSIS and HFC technology, and its Giga Connect Box cannot be connected to fibre-optic.

Orange adds that a similar situation existed in France before the regulator stepped in. As a result, cable operators there now advertise their services as “fibre with coax termination”.

Broadband TV News notes that UPC launched its first 1Gbps service in Poland in Warsaw earlier this month.

Pay-TV market contracts in Moldova

By Chris Dziadul

The number of pay-TV subscribers in Moldova fell by 1.8% in the year to June 30.

According to figures published by the regulator ANRCETI, to stood at 317,900, while revenues in H1 were 2.3% lower than in the corresponding period in 2017, amounting to MDL78.704 million (€3.977 million).

ANRCETI notes that the fall in subscriber numbers was down to a reduction of those receiving cable services. It fell by 17,900, or 9.7%, in the first six months of this year to 166,300.

On the other hand, the IPTV subscriber base grew by 12,000 (8.7%) to 151,700. Pay-TV penetration per 100 inhabitants fell by 0.2 percentage points to 9%.

As of the end of H1, 52.3% of pay-TV subscribers opted for IPTV and 47.7% for cable. At the same time, 60.9% of subscribers used digital and 39.1% analogue services.

Both cable and IPTV saw reductions in revenues. In the former case, they amounted to MDL41.505 million in H1, or 4.1% (MDL1.8 million) less than a year earlier.

IPTV revenues in the same period fell by MDL67,000 to MDL37.2 million.

As a result, ARPU fell by 13%,or MDL6, to MDL40.4.

Yesterday β€” September 17th 2018Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Vivacom partners with Stream Television Company

By Chris Dziadul

Bulgaria’s Vivacom has entered into an agreement with Stream Television Company to deliver its international feed for pay-TV platforms across Europe and the CIS.

As a result, Vivacom, the largest telco in Bulgaria operating one of Europe’s few Tier 3 certified teleports in Europe, will distribute the international version of the hunting and fishing channel Rybalka I Okhota.

Commenting on the development, Dmitry Sokolov, Stream Television Company CTO, said: “With Vivacom, we have now found a partner to help us deliver the international version of the popular TV channel in the best way, increasing the footprint, reliability, and providing outstanding service”.

Vladimir Rangelov, head of broadcasting in Vivacom, added: Vivacom’s MCPC platform on Eutelsat 36E, provides unique wide coverage over the whole of Europe, Middle East and part of Asia, allowing content providers to reliably distribute their channels across large number of head ends in an efficient and cost-effective way”.

Stream Television Company is based in Russia and owns 17 channels, including Rybalka I Okhota.

Major change for Russian cable

By Chris Dziadul

Russian cable operators may soon be required to conform to a system that accurately reports their subscriber numbers.

Kommersant reports that Alexei Volin, the deputy head of the country’s Ministry of Communications, has suggested the creation of such a system, which is also supported by the Media Communication Union (MKS), Association of Cable Television of Russia (AKTR) and National Broadcasters Association (NAT).

There is currently no established system to counting the number of subscribers in Russia.

As a result, some regional operators tend to provide different data on the basis of how it will be used.

Under or over reporting is made in order to get more favourable conditions when working with TV channels.

DTH platform Flix TV to close

By Chris Dziadul

The Prague-based DTH platform Flix TV has informed its customers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that it is to cease operations.

Digital Rozhlas reports that it has not provided a reason for its decision to close. However, it advises them to find another DTH service that offers more programmes at the same or lower price and includes such features as catch-up and a library of TV shows.

Digital Rozhlas has deduced that Flix TV has between 5,000-10,000 subscribers. It nevertheless is an interesting alternative to Skylink and Digi TV, being relatively cheap and showing mostly HD channels.

Meanwhile, in a release sent to Broadband TV News, Flix TV says the current Flix TV service will run until mid-November. Switching to a new service will be free for its customers.

Flix TV was launched in the Czech Republic in March 2016.

LRTK chairman Edmundas Vaitekunas resigns

By Chris Dziadul

The Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) has accepted the resignation of Edmundas Vaitekunas, the chairman of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK).

In a statement, the regulator says that Martas Martisius, the deputy chairman, will take over the role on a temporary basis.

The local media, including Delfi, say that Vaitekunas cited his lack of fluency in foreign languages as the reason for his decision to step down from the role.

However, he also admitted that it was due to the findings of the Committee of National Security and Defence (NSGK) into unlawful influence on political processes.

This included attempts by MG Baltic to gain influence on the LRTK, something that he has denied.

Broadband TV News notes that MG Baltic Media Group’s portfolio includes LNK, the most popular TV channel in Lithuania.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Intelsat notes CEE HD channel demand

By Chris Dziadul

Intelsat is seeing a lot of demand in Central and Eastern Euerope for HD channels at the one degree West position.

Speaking to Broadband TV News at IBC, Rhys Morgan, regional VP, Europe, Intelsat, said this was particularly evident in Slovakia and Romania. At the same time, Bulgaria’s Vivacom has secured new capacity on Intelsat 38 at 45 degrees East, which is due to launch on September 25.

When asked about Ultra HD, Morgan said that although CEE is somewhat behind in its introduction, many markets in the region are early adopters of new technologies. He identified Slovak Telekom as one operator likely to move channels to the Ultra HD format.

Morgan also spoke about Intelsat’s Epic satellites, which have more focused spot beams able to cover entire countries such as Armenia and Bulgaria. Looking to the future, he said that Intelsat will aim to develop a more hybrid approach and delivering more hybrid services into CEE.

Morgan also underlined the fact that Intelsat already takes European services such as the BBC globally, either on its own or with partners.

New Hispasat-supported platform wins first client

By Chris Dziadul

The re-launched and Hispasat-supported B2B DTH platform Pantelio has secured its first client.

Speaking to Broadband TV News at IBC 2018, Slavomir Turcani of Panaccess said that the Czech company, which uses the brand name Magnet TV, has up been involved in such areas as the production of set-top boxes but now wants to become a player in the DTH market.

Its service, which will initially be available in Slovakia and launch next month in the Czech Republic, will be pre-paid, with customers committing upfront to periods from three months up to a year.

Pantelio has been operational since in 2017 and employed Belintersat before switching to Hispasat earlier this year and, as previously reported by Broadband TV News, re-launching this week.

Turcani said it already had around 15 clients, most of them ISPs. It is keen to secure more such clients, especially in the Czech Republic.

Slovak regulator awards licences and imposes fines

By Chris Dziadul

Slovakia’s Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission (RVR) has awarded a national broadcasting licence to Televizia Slovan, based in Matin.

It has also granted the company Logos Media regional licences for the TV stations Zemplin, Hlivistia and Sobrance.

At the same time, RVR has imposed two fines totalling €28,000 on Mac TV, the operator of TV Joj.

The first, for €20,000, was for exceeding the permitted level of commercial airtime in a programme shown this January, and the second, for €8,000, for broadcasting a programme in the afternoon in February this year that was unsuitable for viewers under the age of 12.

New Digi Sport channels launch in Slovakia

By Chris Dziadul

Slovak Telekom has added five more Digi Sport-branded channels to its portfolio.

Available for no additional charge to customers of Magio Go and Digi Go, Digi Sport 6-10 will officially make their debuts on September 15.

Commenting on the development, Digi Slovakia CEO Marcel Satanek said: “Digi Sport’s direct broadcasting offer has increased rapidly from this season, and especially during weekends, it is the match times of each match that interfere with each other. For this reason, we decided to meet our customers and offer them, which would not otherwise be broadcast, five new channels available on our Go platforms.”

Andrej Miklanek, Slovak Telekom’s TV manager, added: “With mobile platforms, we can offer unique additional sports content for broadcasting over IPTV or satellite, in addition to the ideal format, only when it’s up to date. So we move the comfort of the selection to a higher level. We believe that this step will be another impetus for even more intensive use of Go services within our pay-TV offer”.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, the new channels will not be on air 24 hours daily.

Instead, they will offer coverage of such competitions as Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and selected ATP/WPA tennis matches.

Kaltura to work with Russia’s Beeline TV

By Chris Dziadul

VimpelCom has chosen the Kaltura TV Platform for its Beeline TV service in Russia.

The platform incorporates technology to replace the legacy pay-TV service and to reach more devices and customers. They will now be able to access hundreds of live TV channels, VOD and catch-up through a new STB, as well as on connected TVs and mobile handsets, through a single intuitive UI.

Commenting on the development, George Held, chief digital officer at VimpelCom, said: “This new service is a great example of the fixed-mobile convergence strategy and ongoing digital transformation across VEON, helping deliver even better services to customers. Kaltura was chosen because of their proven track record in helping top operators deliver a transformative TV service. The joint expertise and knowledge of the teams at Veon, PJSC VimpelCom and Kaltura has enabled us to launch an extremely complex product, covering eleven different time zones across Russia very quickly”.

Dr. Shay David, Kaltura co-founder, president and GM of Kaltura’s media and telecom business unit, added: “”PJSC VimpelCom is a digital company with a strong vision and a desire to give its customers the ultimate TV experience. We share their vision, which is why our partnership works so well. We are honoured to be powering the Beeline TV service.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration.”

Hispasat, Panaccess launch CEE DTH platform

By Chris Dziadul

The audiovisual service provider Panaccess has launched a DTH platform in cooperation with Hispasat and Belinter Media and targeting the Slovak and Czech markets.

Distributed by Hispasat 30W-5 at 30 degrees West, Pantelio is initially offering 40 SD and 60 HD channels and uses state-of-the-art technology that allows telco providers to offer such additional services as Ultra HD, HbbTV, VOD and seven-day catch-up. The launch of the platform was announced today (Wednesday, September 12) in an event in the Slovak city of Zvolen in which it was presented to key partners and installers.

Commenting on the development, Ignacio Sanchis, CCO of Hispasat, said: “the deal with Panaccess and Belinter Media for the distribution of Pantelio is an important milestone for us, as it is the first time we provide broadcast services in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This will help us diversify our presence in the European broadcast market. We are convinced that Pantelio, with its wide and innovative pay-TV offering and unique features, will be a great success.”

Roland Shlichting, founder and CEO of Panaccess, added: “we are thrilled to partner with Hispasat and Belinter Media for the launch of Pantelio. The high performance and the coverage of Hispasat satellites are ideal for distributing content and providing connectivity in Europe. This, together with the high quality of service and operation standards it provides, has made very easy for us to deploy the platform in a record time.”

The Pantelio platform will have a dedicated space at Hispasat (1C37) and Panaccess (5B22) stands in the IBC 2018.

Orange expands reach in Poland

By Chris Dziadul

Orange Polska has signed an agreement with the alternative telco Nexera.

Under it, the incumbent has gained access to Nextera’s FTTH network and will be able to offer its ultra-fast broadband services to customers in four Polish voivodships, most of who live in single family homes in rural and suburban locations.

Nexera aims to reach 450,000 such homes with its network by 2020, with the build for 280,000 being covered by EU funds.

Under the terms of the agreement, Orange Polska will pay Nexera a one-off fee for accessing its FTTH network and then per subscriber using its services.

Commenting on the agreement, Piotr Jaworski,the director responsible for network and technology at Orange Polska, said: “We are systematically expanding the availability of our fibre- optic offer, both by building our own network and by cooperating with other operators. Fire- optics is the future of fixed internet. This modern infrastructure allows us to provide services of the highest quality, such as 4K TV or ultra-fast home internet. Thanks to the agreement signed today, they will be available to residents of the next few thousand locations”.

Orange aims to eventually reach 5 million homes and offices with FTTH by 2020.

Digi hit by access ruling in Oradea

By Chris Dziadul

The Romanian regulator ANCOM has ruled that RCS&RDS (Digi) should open up its infrastructure in the city of Oradea to all other providers who wish to use it.

In a statement, it says that this should be done in accordance with conditions it sets out.

These conditions, which are “in compliance with the principles of non-discrimination, proportionality and objectivity”, will also apply to those providers already using RCS&RDS’s infrastructure.

ANCOM points out that its decision is based on the fact that RCS&RDS’s infrastructure in Oradea has been built with the support and participation of the local public administration. Therefore, the technical and economic conditions under which access to this infrastructure is achieved are subject to approval or, in this case, are set and imposed by ANCOM.

NTV-Plus boosts online TV offer

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian DTH platform NTV-Plus has added 11 more channels to its online service NTV-Plus TV.

The Supersport package now includes Fightbox HD and Fast’n’Funbox HD and the Kino package Filmbox Arthouse HD.

Meanwhile, the ‘Cognitive’ package contains Through the Eyes of the Tourist HD, Secrets of the Galaxy, World of Hobby, Theatre HD, Your Success, male and Unified State Exam, and Night (adult) package Erox HD.

All the channels are available on the ntvplus.tv site and mobile app NTV-Plus TV for iOS and Android, as well as in applications for Apple TV and Android TV.

Separately, NTV-Plus is now offering its ViP package for free for a second month after paying R399 (€4.91) for the first one.

The package contains Viasat Sport, Viasat Golf, ViP Comedy, ViP Megahit and Viasat Nature/Viasat History. All the channels except Viasat Golf are in HD.

B.net to be rebranded A1

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian cable operator B.net will start using the brand name A1 in October.

At the same time, Vipnet, of which B.net is part, will become A1 Croatia.

Vipnet has been part of A1 Telekom Austria Group for over 19 years and B.net part of Vipnet for seven years.

Last year A1 Telekom Austria Group decided to rebrand all its companies, including Vipnet, as A1.

Following the name change, all B.net products will continue to be offered in the A1 portfolio.

Dmitry Mednikov leaves Russia’s VGTRK

By Chris Dziadul

Dmitry Mednikov has left the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK, where he was deputy DG and closely involved in the development of its thematic channel business Digital TV (DTV).

News of his departure was given by Mednikov himself to RBC and reported by both the latter and AKTR. Medinkov joined VGTRK in 2000 and stopped working at the broadcaster at the beginning of this month. VGTRK’s thematic channel business has been developed in recent years through a joint venture with Rostelecom, which now has 19 proprietary services in its portfolio.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, DTV is currently in the process of being restructured.

Travelxp 4K debuts in Czech

By Chris Dziadul

A full localised Czech language version of Travelxp 4K, the world’s first 4K HDR channel, has been launched in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Quoting Jozef Pipek from IFC Media, the distributor of Travelxp services in the two countries, Parabola reports that although it is as yet not being carried by an operator it is believed it will secure an audience.

It adds that in Europe TravelXp 4K is distributed by Astra at 19.2 degrees East and Eutelsat Hot Bird at 13 degrees East. However, the Czech version is only found on the latter, where it is encrypted with Viaccess.

The HD version of TravelXP is already offered by Skylink, Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic.

It is offered with Czech dubbing and in the original English language version.

Hrvatski Telekom outlines infrastructure plans

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian incumbent Hrvatski Telekom (HT) invested HRK822 million (€111 million) in the first half of this year, or 8.3% more than in the same period in 2017.

Speaking at a press conference in Split, the company’s management board presented plans for future investment in network infrastructure and the development of new innovative telecom and ICT services.

According to Davor Tomaskovic, its CEO, “HT invests 25% of its revenue each year in the latest technology and infrastructure modernisation, which is above the industry average at European level. We invest in the new mobile network of the future, develop innovative products, and raise the quality of service for both residential and business customers, but also explore new growth areas that will enrich the lives of customers in the future. Over the next year, we will provide all customers in the Republic of Croatia with internet access speeds of at least 20Mbps up to 1Gbps”.

HT plans to invest over HRK1 billion on a new mobile network over the next two years, with work on the project having already started earlier this year.

Other developments include the launch of the new Magenta 1 Business offer this month.

Kino Polska increases Stopklatka stake

By Chris Dziadul

SPI International-backed Kino Polska TV has acquired an additional 9.08% stake in Stopklataka, the operator of the film and series-based channel Stopklatka TV, for PLN7.1 million (€1.64 million).

As a result, reports Wirtualne Media, it now owns 91.72% of Stoplakta, which up until this point also listed Hakan Altan holding 14.88% of shares in the company.

Meanwhile, Berk Uziyel has been appointed to the board of Stopklatka. He is already the director of new media, as well as the MD of Filmbox International and Mediabox Broadcasting, at SPI International.

In addition, he is a member of the management board of Kino Polska TV and was also the chairman of the supervisory board of Stopklatka between 2016-18.