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Yesterday โ€” January 19th 2020Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Major Polish cable deal wins approval

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has given its conditional approval to the take-over of Multimedia Polska by Vectra.

In a statement, it says that in order to complete the acquisition of the country’s third largest operator, the second largest will have to sell networks in eight cities and give customers the option to change provider in a further 13.

UOKiK’s decision follows the second stage of an investigation into the proposed transaction in which market research showed that it would lead to a restriction of competition in local markets.

Commenting on the development, UOKIK’s VP Michal Holeksa said: “The condition imposed by us applies to a total of 21 localities. It consists of two parts. The first is structural in nature, i.e. it consists of selling networks. This will apply to eight cities in which the shares of concentration participants are the largest. In the remaining 13, Vectra will have to allow customers to change operators without costs”.

In the eight cities where Vectra will have to sell networks, the operator will have to create new companies into which all its assets are placed. The buyers will not be allowed to belong to, or to be jointly controlled by, Vectra and will have to be approved by UOKiK.

Meanwhile, in the 13 remaining cities, within seven months of the decision being made final Vectra will have nine months to inform customers that they can terminate their pay-TV or broadband contract free of charge.

UOKiK notes that its decision is not final and the applicant can appeal to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection (SOKiK).

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Vectra first notified the UOKiK of its intention to buy Multimedia Polska in August 2018.

Earlier in the year, Liberty Global’s UPC Polska withdrew its offer to Multimedia Polska.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Romanian Digi boosts 4K offer

By Chris Dziadul

The Digi Group/RCS&RDS has launched a special 4K package consisting of its proprietary channel Digi 4K and Eurosport 4K.

Available from Friday, January 17, it can be received throughout the country and costs subscribers RON5 (€1.04) a month to receive.

Digi notes that it was the first operator in the convergent electronic communications market in Romania to launch 4K, with Digi 4K making its debut in November 2018.

It adds that it signed a strategic agreement with Discovery Romania at the end of last year which included the operator’s offer and Home and Garden TV (HGTV) in addition to the premium content available on Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2, Discovery Channel, TLC and Travel Channel.

Tricolor launches unique UFC package

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor has added an à la carte UFC sports package to its offer.

Available to Tricolor DTH customers in the Eutelsat 36B coverage are, it costs R299 (€4.35) a month to receive.

Commenting on the development, Tricolor content director said: “We continue to develop thematic television watching in Russia, especially content related to sports that are not widely represented on federal channels. Subscribers of our new UFC package will have the opportunity at any time to watch the most vivid fights with the participation of legendary athletes on one TV channel”.

UFC Russia VP Andrey Gromkovsky added: “The launch of UFC TV on the Tricolor platform is a new step in expanding the UFC brand and promoting mixed martial arts (MMA) in Russia. Now the fans will be able to support our fighters even in the most remote regions. It is especially important that Tricolor begins cooperation with UFC TV in early 2020, when the biggest UFC fights are expected – the battle of Conor McGregor against Donald Cerrone this coming weekend and the fight of Khabib Nurmagomedov against Tony Ferguson in April 2020”.

Konstantin Vladimirov, commercial director of Media Telekom, said: “UFC TV began broadcasting in April 2019 and has already managed to gather its loyal audience, becoming one of the best sports channels in the current OTT and IPTV services. We are glad that now subscribing to it is available to a wide audience of Tricolor as part of the DTH service”.

UFC covers more than 40 tournaments each year and they will be offered in HD to Tricolor viewers.

Nikica Skunca leaves Nova TV

By Chris Dziadul

Nikica Skunca has left his position as internet business unit manager, new media director at Croatia’s Nova TV after nearly 10 years with the company.

According to Poslovni, he has been appointed the CEO of IN2 Group, until recently the largest software company in the country.

Meanwhile, IN2 Group’s former CEO Katarina Siber Makar has been promoted to senior VP for business development at Aquila Software, a parent company of IN2 Group.

Skunca started his career at Hrvatski Telekom in 1998.

Ukraine amends foreign channel list

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has made three changes to the list of foreign TV channels allowed to be broadcast in the country.

All such channels have to comply with the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and Ukrainian legislation.

The first change involves Nickelodeon, with the country of ownership of the channel (producer) now the Czech Republic now the Czech Republic rather than Netherlands.

The language has also been changed from Russian to English and Russian, while the channel is now offered simultaneously in both HD and SD.

The second change involves Russia’s Tele 9, which ceased its activities in February 2013 and has been removed from the list, and the third Nicktoons, which is registered in the Czech Republic.

A 24-hour channels broadcast in Russian, it has been added to the list.

ODMedia Group opens Poland office

By Chris Dziadul

The Dutch content services, aggregation and processing company for on-demand media ODMedia Group has opened an office in the Polish capital, Warsaw.

Headed by Lukasz Brzezinski, who was formerly at Canal+ Group and Kino Polska TV, and effectively expands the company’s next-generation media and commercial aggregation services to the growing Polish market.

Commenting on the development, Sjef Pijnenburg, CEO of ODMedia Group, said: “This new addition to the ODMedia Group family is part of our growing global strategy. Poland is a fast-growing market and I am very excited to have such an experienced partner on board. I look forward to the great things that will happen in this market”.

Lukasz Brzezinski added: “Having seen what ODMedia Group has been able to achieve these last 15 years gives me the confidence and prowess to show our Polish clients what we can do to help them with the everchanging demand of the digital marketplace.”

Viasat landmark in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

The number of subscribers to the Viasat satellite service in Ukraine now stands at over 100,000.

Mediasat reports that it was provided with the figure by the company’s press service.

It adds that the growth in the subscriber base is down to a simple connection, packages with a wide range of channels and the quality of Viasat services.

Viasat launched an advertising and educational campaign in September 2019 to inform the public about the upcoming encryption of satellite TV channels by Ukrainian media groups early this year.

To simplify connected to its services as much as possible, it introduced new satellite receivers with autotuning and launched a new CRM.

However, on the eve of the encryption it is receiving up to 20,000 calls a day enquiring as to which channels will be affected and what to do with existing tuners.

MTS consolidates Moscow operation

By Chris Dziadul

MTS has combined its mobile and fixed businesses in the Russian capital, with the latter having been previously operated by its subsidiary Moscow City Telephone Network (MGTS).

Kommersant reports that the process is being accompanied by an advertising campaign that is necessary to emphasise the completed restructuring.

It is dedicated to the launch of a new promotional package, which includes home internet, TV and a subscription to the OTT service ivi.

Data published by TMT Consulting shows that MTS, including MGTS, was the third largest provider of broadband in Q3 2019 after Rostelecom and ER Telecom, with 3.3 million connections.

The total number of broadband connections in Russia stood at 33.1 million as of the end of last September.

Bundled services provided by MTS saw a 26% increase in subscriber numbers in 2019, while revenues from mobile services using MGTS’s virtual model increased by more than 30%.

Vodafone and Discovery ink Romanian deal

By Chris Dziadul

All Discovery Group channels from the UPC network are now available in the Vodafone TV grid in Romania.

Furthermore, starting this year Vodafone Romania is the sponsor of the Grand Slam tours and ATP Circuit broadcasts by Eurosport TV channels. Starting with the Australian Open later this month, Vodafone and UPC customers will be able to watch all the mentioned tennis matches on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 channels, available in Vodafone TV and UPC grids.

In addition, in what will be a first in Romania, this Friday (January 17) the Eurosport 4K channel will be launched in the UPC grid. It will initially be available to UPC subscribers in Bucharest and gradually introduced to those in other parts of the country.

Ukraine enacts ad law

By Chris Dziadul

All advertising in Ukraine will have to be in the state language from this Thursday, January 16.

In a statement, the regulator National Council says that this is as a result of a new law that was approved by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) on April 25 last year.

It applies to all media, including TV.

At the same time, foreign broadcasters and broadcasters broadcasting in one or more of the official languages of the EU may, in addition to the national language, place advertising in the official languages of the EU.

The new law has also amended the Code of Administrative Offences and violations of the law will initially result in a warning, followed by a fine.

New Prima channel for Slovakia

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech broadcaster Prima plans to launch a second channel in Slovakia this year.

According to Zive, quoting Prima’s business development director Martin Cepek, the channel in question will be CNN Prima News.

It will offer viewers Czech content provided by Prima and international news from CNN.

Prima officially entered the Slovak market two years ago with the launch of Prima Plus.

CNN Prima News secured a licence last year and was due to start DTT test transmissions earlier this month.

Telekom Romania sale inches forward

By Chris Dziadul

Deutsche Telekom’s Srini Gopalan has met with the Romanian PM Ludovic Orban for the second time in as many months to discuss the sale of Telekom Romania.

According to Ziarul Financiar, the meeting was also attended by Lucian Bode, the minister of infrastructure and communications, and other members of the government.

The meeting, which took place in Tuesday, January 14, was announced by the government the previous day without giving any further details.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Gopalan, who is a member of Deutsche Telekom’s board, met with the Romanian government in December 2019.

In it, he is understood to have provided an update on the sale of Telekom Romania and specifically talks with Orange, RCS&RDS (Digi) and BC Partners (United Group).

The Romanian state holds a minority stake in the incumbent telco.

Discovery rings in the changes in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

Discovery has made far reaching changes to its Ukrainian operation, closing its office in the capital, Kiev.

At the same time, reports Telekritika, citing several representatives of pay-TV providers, it has dismissed two Ukrainian distribution managers.

Both actions happened at the end of 2019 and since the beginning of this year the distribution of Discovery channels in the country has been overseen by the group’s Bulgarian office.

It adds that the reason for this is the disappointing performance of Discovery channels in Ukraine.

The two regional managers who left the group were Anton Korchemakha, who was responsible for the distribution of Discovery channels in the Baltic States and Belarus, and Vladimir Zinchenko, who was responsible for Ukraine.

The Bulgarian office is headed by Yekaterina Mikhailovich.

Netflix powers ahead in Poland

By Chris Dziadul

Almost one in five Polish internet users watched Netflix last month.

Quoting data produced by Gemius/PBI, Wirtualne Media reports that Netflix was again the most watched VOD service in the country in December 2019, claiming 5,306,302 real users.

This was equivalent to 19.17% of all internet users in Poland and 1.576 million, or 42.2%, more than the previous month.

Meanwhile, its open total in December stood at 76,858,916 (+28.55 million, +59.1% up on the previous month).

Vod.pl was in second place, with 3,053,527 users, 11,738,190 users and a reach of 11.03%.

HBO Go was also a strong performer in December, with its user total growing by 816,400, or 46.9%, to 2,555,728 and opens by 11.2% to 23,892,662.

At the same time, losses were noted by TVN’s Player, TVP’s VoD service and Polsat’s ipla.

Netflix’s strong performance in December can partly be explained by the premier of the new series The Witcher.

Orange eyes new STB

By Chris Dziadul

Orange Slovakia plans to introduce its set own DTH set-top box in the first half of this year.

Zive reports that the company launched its satellite TV service a year and a half ago.

Although it was supposed to introduce its own box in autumn 2018 and subsequently put the date back to the first months of last year, the box has so far failed to materialise.

Furthermore, while initially saying it would be full HD and then Ultra HD, Orange Slovakia now no longer specifies what its new box will offer.

Orange Slovakia’s satellite TV service ended Q3 2019 with over 10,000 subscribers.

Discovery in Telekom Romania dispute

By Chris Dziadul

Discovery has rejected a proposal by Telekom Romania to create additional and separate packages in which only its channels are present.

Quoting Discovery representatives, Ziarul Financiar reports that the company sees it as the wrong approach and one it cannot accept. However, it remains open to fair play negotiations with Telekom Romania, conducted in good faith. Moreover, if Telekom Romania would include all TV channels in its portfolio in packages from which viewers can chose, then that would make sense.

In Discovery’s view, Telekom’s proposal discriminates against it by isolating its channels while at the same time maintaining the same package structure for other TV channels.

Quoting industry sources, Ziarul Fininciar also says that Telekom only intended to buy Eurosport channels from Discovery, something which the latter would have refused, insisting it also take its other channels.

Telekom’s inability to change its contract with Discovery led to it breaking the contract and seeking out other content providers, such as National Geographic.

Telekom is one of the leading providers of pay-TV services in Romania, calming around 1.4 million subscribers.

Plus employs Orange infrastructure

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish fibre internet service Plus has begun to use Orange’s infrastructure at new selected locations.

Up until now it has employed that of the Netia. As a result of the change, the service has more than doubled its reach and is now available to almost 39% of households across the country, providing Plus landline customers with internet speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Netia’s nationwide fixed-line infrastructure currently reaches almost 2.7 million households and over 800 of the largest office buildings.

Furthermore, 3.2 million households are within Plus’s landline range, of which nearly 0.5 million are connected to optical fibre, with the remainder supported by other cable technologies.

Customers who have Orange cable in their homes will now be able to use Plus fibre-optic internet, as well as cable IPTV from Cyfrowy Polsat.

Digi upgrades sports offer

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech DTH and internet TV broadcaster Digi has made its sports offer more accessible to viewers.

In a statement, it says that they can now order the Sport package for one day, three days or a week.

It adds that the short-term packages include its entire TV sports offer, with the main attractions of Digi Sport 13 being the German Bundesliga, Spanish LaLiga, Italian Serie A and English Premier League, as well as ATP tennis tournaments.

Commenting on the development, Iveta Slapalova, director of customers services at Digi TV, said: “The new product is aimed at those sports fans who like to watch football, but whether for time or other reasons do not take advantage of our offer in the long term.

“Broadcasts from the best football competitions, so we believe that especially for weekend packages, sports fans will be very interested. The one-day package can be used to watch exceptional matches of Europe’s best football competitions”.

1+1 Media provides anti-piracy report

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian broadcast group 1+1 Media submitted 62 claims against pirates in 2019.

Working together with the Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine, it carried out 12 investigations into infringements of intellectual property rights and filed nine allegations of violations related to the activity of card sharing services.

Commenting on its activities, Vyacheslav Mienko, director of GR Group 1+1 Media, said: “We are always ready for a dialogue and a peaceful settlement of any disputes before criminal proceedings are opened. That is why we constantly monitor violations and conduct active claims. But if violators do not respond to our appeals, lawyers are recruited. They are convinced that bringing criminals to justice is the most effective way to protect their rights, which, despite the lengthy process, does not allow them to avoid punishment. Currently, our civil lawsuits in criminal proceedings already reach millions of hryvnias. Cardsharing will be a particular focus of our attention this year. We also plan to initiate a number of changes to the legislation to simplify the procedure for bringing criminals to justice and to strengthen them for infringement of intellectual property rights”.

1+1 Media notes that in 2013 it and other Ukrainian rights holders joined the Clean Sky Initiative in order to protect he rights of content producers and content owners. By working together, they are developing a legal audiovisual content market in the domestic media space and are actively fighting sites and providers that use copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright owner.

Travelxp secures Telekom Romania carriage

By Chris Dziadul

Telekom Romania has added Travelxp to its channel line-up.

As of the beginning of this year it has been available on the telco’s DTH and IPTV platforms, fully localised with subtitles in Romanian.

Commenting on the development, Sumant Bahl, MD – Europe, Travelxp, said: “The year 2019 has been an excellent year for Travelxp, and 2020 begins with a crucial partnership with Telekom Romania. We are excited to showcase 100% original travel documentary programming to the viewers of Romania, and to have them experience and explore the world on their television screens”.

Andreas Elsner, CCO, residential segment, Telekom Romania, added: “By including Travel XP in our TV grids, we are providing our customers with exciting programmes, which will broaden their perspective on travel and will give them the opportunity to learn new things about different cultures and countries. Our partnership with Travel XP is valuable through the variety and quality of the broadcast content which we are certain that our customers will enjoy watching”.

Travelxp is already localised in nine European languages and distributed in over 18 countries across Europe.

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