E U R O P E


RECORD VIEWERSHIP FOR EURO 2004
According to Médiamétrie’s newest Eurodata TV Sport
Insight survey, viewership for the Euro 2004 football
tournament topped the viewership for this year’s
summer Olympic Games across Europe. Highlights of the
Euro 2004 ratings include the numbers for Germany,
where 25.4 million viewers tuned in for the
Greece/Portugal finale on ZDF, scoring a market share
of 68.5 per cent. In Greece, meanwhile, ET1 scored an
80.6 per cent share—for some 3 million viewers—for the
final match. In France, TF1 nabbed a 59.9 per cent
share with the 15.3 million viewers who watched the
France/Switzerland match. And BBC One generated a 72.5
per cent share for the 20.7 million audiences for the
Portugal-U.K. event. In terms of the Olympics,
gymnastics and athletics topped in Germany, which
scored 24.6 per cent and 26.3 per cent shares
respectively. Those two disciplines were also popular
in Spain, generating shares of 18.5 per cent and 19.8
per cent. Football and basketball were the big winners
in Italy, with 36.6 per cent and 33.8 per cent shares
respectively.

EBU RECOMMENDS HDTV STANDARD
The EBU Technical Committee has recommended that
Emission standards for HDTV should be based on
progressive scanning: 720p/50 is currently the optimum
solution, but 1080p/50 is an attractive option for the
longer term. Although there are strong technical
arguments in favour of progressive scanning for
emission, the EBU Technical Committee recognises that
some broadcasters might wish to broadcast 1080i
programme material. As consumer electronics equipment
(e.g. set-top boxes and displays) will accept both
720p and 1080i formats, broadcasters will be able to
select either of these formats – even on a
programme-by-programme basis. Taking into account that
production and emission standards do not need to be
identical, further EBU studies on Production standards
for HDTV in Europe are in progress. This work is not
intended to result in a recommendation for a single
standard for HDTV production.

AUSTRIA

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 TO AIR ON NOVEMBER 1
Austrian public broadcaster ORF is joining the ranks
of broadcasters that will show Michael Moore's
anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" on November 1,
only months after its theatrical release. German
commercial channel ProSieben will broadcast "9/11" on
the same evening. ORF will run "Fahrenheit" as the
climax of its U.S. election background coverage, which
includes two other critical documentaries over the
next two weeks: "People Like Us: Social Class in
America," by Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez, and
Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on
Journalism."

CZECH REPUBLIC

PARLIAMENTARY CHANNEL TO START THIS MONTH
Members of both houses of Parliament soon will be
watched more closely than ever before. 24.cz, a
television station that will broadcast the day-to-day
activities of the country's MPs, begins trial
broadcasting October 28. The channel, which will be
available also on cable and via Astra satellite, will
operate under the Region Media company umbrella and
has a 12-year broadcasting license. UPC will not
support the company financially but will provide
technical support and signal distribution. 24.cz is
scheduled to begin "regular" broadcasting Nov. 17, the
15th anniversary of the 1989 revolution, and in time
it may evolve into a comprehensive news channel.

FINLAND

BROADCASTERS CRITICISED OVER MOBILE BILLS
Finland's consumer watchdog said on October 11 it had
reprimanded broadcasters for causing children to run
up huge mobile phone bills with interactive television
game and chat programs. In one case a child played a
television game as though it were a computer game,
sending enough text messages to get a bill of €1,200.

FRANCE

PRIVATE GOLD ON NOOS CABLE
Private Media Group Inc announced on October 14 the
launch of the Private Gold television channel on Noos,
the largest cable television operator in France,
following an agreement with Private Blue and Gold
Broadcasting, a Private Media Group Licensee. Under
the terms of the agreement, the Private Gold channel
will be offered to Noos subscribers from October 18 as
part of a premium channel package on a monthly
subscription basis. The adult entertainment channel
will be broadcast from midnight to 5 am seven days a
week. Private Gold is currently available in more than
40 countries around the world.

TF1 GETS GOVERNMENT BACKING
A government commissioner has found in favour of TF1's
challenge of DTT licences awarded to the Canal Plus
group. In his conclusions, the commissioner
recommended cancelling the licences to the channels
Sport+, i-Tele, Planete, CineCinema, Premier, iMCM,
and Canal j. The decision does not affect the premium
channel Canal +. In its complaint, TF1 pointed out
that Canal + and the Lagardere Group jointly
controlled two of these channels, iMCM and Canal-j and
so should be counted among the licences awarded to
both of the operators. At the time of the call for
tenders, the upper limit was five channel licences per
operator. This upper limit for licences has now been
amended to seven, but the commissioner considered that
the law as it was at the time should be applied.

GERMANY

SAT.1 SALE DENIED
Leading commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media
will not sell its Sat.1 station, chief executive
Guillaume de Posch told German news magazine Focus,
dismissing rumours of a sale, in an interview to be
published on October 9. Earlier, Sueddeutsche Zeitung
had reported rumours that ProSieben's biggest
shareholder Haim Saban could sell Sat.1. America's
Walt Disney Co was cited as an interested buyer.

SCIENTIFIC-ATLANTA CHOSEN FOR DVB-T PROJECT
Following the successful deployment of its technology
in Germany’s DVB-T pilot project in Berlin,
Scientific-Atlanta Europe has been selected to supply
its technology for the next two deployments in and
around the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Bremen and
Hanover. The Cologne/Bonn project started on May 24,
with the deployment in the Hamburg, Düsseldorf and
Ruhrgebiet areas commencing in November.
Scientific-Atlanta’s technology will help provide
digital terrestrial television to a potential audience
of 24 million viewers. The demands of DVB-T are that
four channels must be transported at a bit rate of
13.2 mbps to enable blanket coverage for consumers
using either rooftop or indoor portable aerials. This
will also support customers using mobile reception.

HISTORY CHANNEL TO LAUNCH NOVEMBER 15
AETN International has unveiled a November 15 launch
date for History Channel's long-awaited German debut,
and has inked a deal with ZDF Enterprises for local
content. Adding to the Sunday night branded block on
public broadcaster ZDF, the new German-language pay
network will draw on the AETN library and some locally
produced and acquired German-themed history
programming. The channel will be carried on Kabel
Deutschland through its new digital programme package,
Kabel Digital Home. The pay platform, competing with
satellite platform Premiere, launched at the end of
September with a slew of international channels
including E! Entertainment, BBC Prime, AXN, Sci-Fi,
Nat Geo, Planet, ESPN Classic Sports, MTV Hits, MTV
Dance, VH1 Classic, Trace TV and Playboy TV. According
to vice-president of programming and production at
AETN International, Michael Katz, the company's second
international channel, Biography, will launch into key
European territories in the first quarter of 2005.
Other plans for 2005 include the launch of a new
themed factual channel called i24: Investigation TV,
dedicated to crime-related factual programming.

TV AD REVENUE ON THE INCREASE
German TV ad revenue totaled €5.3 billion over the
first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year
increase of about 3.2% -- according to figures
released on October 14 by Nielsen Media Research.
Despite the good news, TV continued to underperform in
the total German advertising market, which grew 5.7%
compared with the first nine months of 2003, according
to Nielsen.

HUNGARY

CR TO BID FOR ANTENNA HUNGARIA
The Czech telecommunications firm Ceske
radiokomunikace (CRa) will take part in a
privatization tender for the state-owned Hungarian
broadcaster Antenna Hungaria, according to the
Hungarian business weekly HVG. The weekly says CRa is
one of six foreign investors to express interest in
the company. The others are France's Telediffusion,
Portugal Telecom, Spain's Retevision, Italy's
Telespazio, and the venture capital firm Advent
International. The Antenna privatization has been
postponed several times already, but the state
privatization agency recently announced that it wants
to complete the tender by the end of 2004. The
government controls 73.7 % of the telecommunications
firm and wants to sell the whole stake to a strategic
investor.

IRELAND

BROADCASTERS READY TO ACCEPT FINE SYSTEM
Private radio and TV companies have said they would be
willing to accept a system of fines or "penalty
points" for breaches of broadcasting regulations. The
Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), which
represents commercial stations throughout the State,
said at present there was no flexibility when stations
broke the rules. The regulator, the Broadcasting
Commission of Ireland (BCI), either wrote to stations
warning of the breaches or removed licences
altogether, said the IBI.

ITALY

POLICE DISCOVER SATELLITE PIRATE
Brescia Finance Police have discovered the first and
only case in Europe of satellite piracy. A TV
broadcaster with very sophisticated technology was
discovered using frequencies to broadcast scrambled
sport and pornography programmes. Also discovered was
a network of customers with smart cards retailing at
€100 each, as the result of an investigation conducted
in Italy and France over the course of a year.

SCIENTIFIC-ATLANTA AND SIRTI TO HELP RAI DTT LAUNCH
In order to meet a strict government deadline for
establishing digital transmission over its terrestrial
network, Rai Way selected a Sirti - Scientific-Atlanta
Europe NV DVB-T digital transport solution to serve
RAI, the national public broadcaster in Italy. The new
Scientific-Atlanta satellite uplink system has been
installed in Rome for Rai Way to operate as it manages
the national public broadcast network for RAI in
Italy. The new digital system went into operation in
early January 2004 following integration and
installation by Sirti. The Scientific-Atlanta
satellite uplink system is used by Rai Way to provide
programming to feed the digital transmitters covering
major cities in Italy. The new uplink system replaces
an aging system, and will also deliver satellite
programming to DTH customers. The system supplied will
distribute programs for RAI's DTH European satellite
programs and two national digital terrestrial
bouquets.

A.S. ROMA SIGNS PAY-TV DEAL
AS Roma has announced that it had signed a €102
million TV deal with Sky Italia to have its games
broadcast via the satellite TV service for the next
two seasons.

POLAND

TVN IPO IN DECEMBER
Private Polish TV station TVN will debut on the Warsaw
Stock Exchange (WSE) in December or early in 2005, an
analyst close to the deal told Interfax on October 13.
TVN's parent company, Polish media group ITI, hopes to
raise $100-150 million through the planned
three-tranche IPO. Foreign investors will be offered
40-50% of shares, with 30-40% offered to domestic
institutional investors and 10-20% to domestic retail
investors. The offer will not involve a capital
increase and is aimed, among other things, at bringing
liquidity to the parent company, the ITI group, and to
minority investors engaged in ITI.

PORTUGAL

RTL GROUP ENTERS TV MARKET
RTL Group on October 4 announced the acquisition of a
strategic shareholding of 11.6% in the share capital
of Grupo Media Capital, a leading Portuguese media
company. The shareholding was sold to RTL Group by
Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, a leading global private
investment firm. Grupo Media Capital is the leading
television broadcaster in Portugal, measured by both
prime-time audience share and net advertising revenue,
through the free to air broadcaster TVI.

SPAIN

WORLD TV PREMIERE OF “FAHRENHEIT 9/11” ON CANAL PLUS
The world TV premiere of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit
9/11" will take place in Spain. Premium pay-TV channel
Canal Plus Espana will air the documentary October 25,
eight days before the U.S. presidential election. It
will screen at 22:00, repeat a half-hour later on a
multiplexed channel and air for the final time at
22:00 on October 26. "Fahrenheit 9/11" grossed €3.9
million through October, making it the
highest-grossing documentary in Spain.

SWEDEN

CANAL DIGITAL SVERIGE OPTS FOR KREATEL BOXES
Kreatel Communications on October 11 announced that it
has signed an agreement with Canal Digital to provide
it with set-top boxes and software for the IPTV launch
to Swedish consumers. Canal Digital, Sweden’s largest
provider of digital television, is now making its TV
offering available also over broadband IP networks,
with Kreatel as one of its suppliers of set-top boxes
for the service. With a set-top box from Kreatel and a
subscription from Canal Digital, Swedish consumers
will have access to many TV channels and video on
demand delivered with highest video quality. As IPTV
and video on demand consists of highly valuable
content, content rights owners require the data to be
encrypted. The Kreatel IP-STB System contains the
security solution that receives and decrypts the
signal, making the content available for the
subscriber on the TV screen. Canal Digital is fully
owned by Telenor and is Sweden’s largest distributor
of digital television. Canal Digital offers
approximately 80 TV channels, 20 music channels, and
interactive services over cable, satellite and
broadband.

TURKEY

WARNER BROS SIGNS OUTPUT DEAL
US major Warner Bros International TV Distribution has
inked a multi-year free-to-air deal with Turkish
distributor SAR-AN International for an unspecified
number of years. The terms give SAR-AN the TV rights
to films, series and cartoons from the new WBITV slate
including Harry Potter titles Sorcerer's Stone and
Chamber of Secrets, The Last Samurai, Matrix Reloaded
& Revolutions and Ocean's Eleven. Cartoons in the
package include Duck Dodgers and Baby Looney Tunes.
SAR-AN, run by Alan Saran, also exclusively represents
companies including Hallmark Channel, AETN
International, ESPN and Sportfive inside Turkey.

UNITED KINGDOM

BBC PRIME IN 20 MILLION HOMES
BBC Prime, BBC Worldwide's international entertainment
channel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is for
the first time reaching more than 20 million
subscriber households. BBC Prime achieved this
milestone following recent growth and launches into
new territories, making BBC Prime one of the most
popular platforms for British television across
Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BBC Prime has seen
strong growth recently with launches across Central
Europe and Italy, the development of subtitling to
cover ten languages and new distribution deals in
France and Germany. In South Africa, BBC Prime is now
established as the most watched international channel.
BBC Prime is broadcast to over 20 million subscribers
across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on cable and
satellite. Over 2500 hours of new programming are
transmitted each year, including Parkinson, Top of the
Pops, EastEnders, The Weakest Link and BBC Learning
(the BBC's unique overnight educational service). This
flagship British cable channel shows the best of the
award-winning programmes from BBC drama, comedy,
children's, documentary, film and lifestyle series.
Subtitles are available in English, Hungarian, Czech,
Polish, Hebrew, Romanian, Italian, Danish, Swedish and
Norwegian.

ITV COMPLETES GMTV ACQUISITION
ITV has completed the Ł31 million acquisition of SMG's
stake in GMTV, the latest step in taking full control
of the breakfast-time broadcaster. Following the
merger of Carlton and Granada to create ITV plc, chief
executive Charles Allen announced in May that the
company would buy SMG's 25% stake in GMTV, taking its
overall stake to 75%. Under the terms of the
shareholder agreement ITV is now obliged to offer Walt
Disney, the other joint venture partner in the
consortium that originally won the breakfast
broadcasting licence from TV-am, Ł31 million for its
25% stake in GMTV. However, the US giant has not yet
decided whether to sell.

NTL RECEIVES 15 BIDS
NTL has received at least 15 offers for its TV and
radio transmission business, the sale of which is
expected to generate up to Ł1.2 billion for the UK’s
largest cable company. The first round of bidding for
the transmitter network that broadcasts the BBC, ITV,
Channel 4 and Five closed on October 11, with a number
of private equity firms and infrastructure companies
believed to have expressed an interest. Bidders that
have lodged an initial interest with Goldman Sachs,
which is handling the sale process, include Australian
bank Macquarie, Apax Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
and Terra Firma. Macquarie, which bought NTL's
Australian transmission business in 2002, is expected
to be among the favourites, having failed earlier this
year in its bid to buy Crown Castle's transmission
business. The number of bidders is expected to drop
sharply ahead of the second round of bids, which are
due in by November 22. The winner of the auction is
also likely to have to spend hundreds of millions of
pounds upgrading the nationwide transmission service
to cope with the switch from analogue to digital
broadcasting.

CONSUMER GROUP WORRIED OVER DIGITAL TV
Consumer groups lobbied the government on October 11
to ensure that people with low incomes or disabilities
will not be left out in the switch from analogue to
digital broadcasting, set for 2012. In a report
commissioned by broadcasting minister Andrew McIntosh,
the Consumer Experts Group, an alliance of
consumer-advocate bodies, warned that most people are
still against the idea of the switch-off and that the
government would miss its target date if financial
support is not available for the elderly and
low-income households. The pressure groups included
representatives from the Consumers' Association, the
Royal National Institute for the Blind, the National
Consumer Council and Age Concern.

BBC DIGITAL TV CHANNELS FAIL TO DELIVER
The BBC's digital portfolio of channels has had a
limited effect on commercial rivals because they have
failed to attract audiences, according to a U.K.
culture secretary-commissioned review of the services
published on October 13. In the review of the role of
youth entertainment channel BBC3, arts channel BBC4
and kids services CBBC and CBeebies that will feed
into the process of BBC charter review, Patrick
Barwise of the London Business School said that BBC3
and BBC4 had proven to be "poor value for money" in
terms of driving digital take-up, but he acknowledged
that program quality was high.

BBC, CHANNEL 4 AND ITV LAUNCH AUDIO DESCRIPTION
The BBC, Channel 4 and ITV have announced that Audio
Description is now available via digital satellite
television, as well as on Freeview. Audio Description,
or AD, allows viewers with compatible equipment to
hear a verbal description of the visual scenes on the
television. It broadcasts some programmes with
enhanced commentary transmitted in gaps between
dialogue. It has been developed as an aid to
understanding and enjoyment particularly, but not
exclusively, for viewers who have visual impairments.
The BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five are committed to
audio describing at least six per cent of their output
in 2005. Programmes described include the most popular
soaps like Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale
and comedies like Friends and Sex and the City.
Children's programming like Blue Peter, The Hoobs and
Fimbles feature this service also. The BBC's Audio
Description service will be accessible via BBC One
London, BBC Two England, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies
and CBBC.

SONY AND DISNEY TEAM UP FOR VOD SERVICE
Sony Pictures and the Walt Disney Co. are planning to
launch the United Kingdom's first studio-backed
video-on-demand service in a bid to erode BSkyB's
control over the UK pay-TV market. The two studios
said they plan to launch a cable-only VOD service in
partnership with management company On Demand
Management, which already operates pay-per-view
services for the U.K.'s biggest cable operators, NTL
and Telewest. Sony Pictures, Disney and the On Demand
group filed an application October 4 for permission to
launch the service with the European Commission's
competition division and expect a preliminary decision
as early as November 11.

UK POPULATION WANTS TV LICENSE FEE
According to the results of a new BBC survey, 81 per
cent of the U.K. population agree that the public
broadcaster is worth the Ł121 they have to pay for the
license fee every year. The survey, entitled Measuring
the Value of the BBC, also found that more than half
of the 2,257 respondents valued the BBC at twice the
current license fee. Respondents on average valued the
BBC at between Ł18 and Ł24 per month. In terms of
programming, the digital channels BBC Three, CBBC and
CBeebies were well received by respondents, while in
analogue homes News 24 proved to be a favourite. The
report also assessed the impact of introducing a
subscription-funded model for the BBC–if the
broadcaster were to charge Ł13 per month, 14.8 million
homes would subscribe. About 9.7 million would not
have access to the BBC.

ITV EXPECTS CUT IN BROADCAST FEES
ITV took a step closer to slashing its Ł450 million
licence payments burden on October 13 after Ofcom
published proposals that could reduce annual
broadcasting fees. The UK's largest commercial
terrestrial broadcaster has long argued for a
reduction in the public service programming quotas
that form a large constituent of its analogue
broadcasting licences. Ofcom, the media regulator,
acknowledged ITV's case last month when it proposed
the gradual phasing out of non-news regional
programming. However, ITV has also called for Ofcom to
recognise the cost of broadcasting 104 hours of
religious programming and 520 hours of TV shows per
year in terms of lost advertising revenue. The
regulator confirmed it will take into account the
money lost from screening such programmes when it
calculates the cost of ITV licences, which are due for
renewal at the end of the year.

BBC WORLDWIDE NOT FOR SALE
The BBC has told senior executives that a full scale
sell-off of its commercial arm, valued at up to Ł1
billion, is now firmly off the agenda after hiring
bankers to discuss the possibility with major media
companies in recent months. The corporation's chief
operating officer, John Smith, who is overseeing a
wholesale review of the BBC's commercial operations,
told a meeting of 400 managers that Worldwide was "not
for sale at the moment". He said the review was likely
to recommend that the BBC hold on to assets that "had
a strategic attachment" to the broadcaster. These are
likely to include the BBC America cable channel and
other overseas ventures.

UEFA CUP FINAL ON ITV
ITV has beaten Five to the rights to the Uefa Cup
final for the next two years. The network already
shares the rights to live Champions League coverage
with BSkyB as part of a Ł83 million-a-year joint deal,
but this year has stepped up its drive to pick up
rights to the second string European competition as
well. UEFA, the European football governing body, has
announced that ITV has secured the rights to the 2005
and 2006 Uefa Cup finals. As part of the deal ITV has
also won the rights to next year's Super Cup final,
played annually between the winners of the Champions
League and the Uefa Cup.

NTL CHOOSES SEACHANGE FOR VOD SERVICE
ntl Incorporated, the largest cable television
operator in the United Kingdom, has chosen SeaChange
International and its comprehensive VOD System to
support its impending on-demand television service.
Initial launch of ntl's on-demand service is slated
for the first quarter of 2005, making it Europe's
first large-scale, commercial cable on-demand service.
SeaChange's strategic on-demand partner, London-based
programming and content provider On Demand Group
(ODG), is also collaborating with ntl to enable this
milestone in European television. ntl is the U.K.'s
largest cable company and leading broadband supplier
with over one million broadband customers and 3
million residential customers. ntl's fibre-optic
broadband network can service 7.8 million homes in the
U.K. including London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford,
Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast.

BSKYB EXTENDS ENGLAND RUGBY UNION CONTRACT
BSkyB extended its contract to show England rugby
matches by five years until 2010, the Rugby Football
Union said on October 12. BSkyB will show domestic
league matches and England's home international games
except for those in Europe's Six Nations tournament,
which is aired by the BBC. BSkyB already shows the
European Heineken Cup and, from the southern
hemisphere, Tri- Nations and Super 12 matches.

GMTV RENEWS DISNEY OUTPUT DEAL
UK breakfast broadcaster GMTV has renewed its output
deal with minority shareholder Disney. Despite the
loss of Disney-produced show Diggin' It, the renewal
will still ensure that Disney cartoons fill much of
GMTV's weekend kids slots, and covers some 300 new
half-hours of series like Lilo & Stitch, House of
Mouse, Recess, Kim Possible, Dave the Barbarian and
Tarzan. A separate deal also covers rights to Power
Rangers: Dino Thunder and Spider-Man from Jetix Europe
which Disney's sale arm Buena Vista represents. All
titles will arrive in GMTV's Saturday and Sunday
morning slots from early February 2005.

INTERACTIVE BBC TEN O’CLOCK NEWS
After Wimbledon and the Olympics: the BBC is now
planning to add an interactive dimension to its
flagship news bulletin, the Ten O'Clock News on BBC1.
The move will expand on the existing interactive news
services on BBC channels, which already offer a
round-up of headlines, a business summary, weather and
sport updates. The new service, dubbed Ten Extra and
created by iTV firm Two Way TV, will offer red button
jockeys two new text/graphics-based services plus one
video package, adding additional info and footage to
three of the night's top stories. Running on weekdays
only, Ten Extra will be available to interactive TV
viewers for only 15 minutes after the news bulletin.