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18th February 2007, 22:22
TV News on 18.02.2007
March launch for Sky Movies on demand
Sky is to launch the TV-delivered version of its Sky Anytime movies on demand service next month. The broadcaster also plans to rebrand its portfolio of movie channels based on individual genres. Sky Anytime on TV will offer subscribers a selection of blockbuster and recurrent movies through a dedicated section within the Sky Guide EPG. The titles will be pushed directly to previously unused capacity on the hard drives of Sky+ boxes and Sky HD boxes. The Sky Anytime on PC service currently offers subscribers access to a library of 300 titles.The latest rebrand of the Sky Movies portfolio – it has sometimes felt like an annual event – will take place on April 4 and will see genre specific channels covering Comedy, Drama, Family, Action/Thriller, Indie, Classic, Horror/Sci-fi and Modern Greats. The mixed format movie channels will survive through dedicated HD channels.
Research: Modest interest in mobile TV
3GSM WORLD CONGRESS - BARCELONA. There is only a modest interest in mobile TV, according to research by Circle Research, which was carried out on behalf of the GSM Association. Research was done in fifteen markets. In a list of “best potential” for mobile phone usage TV ranks only at an 11th place, after SMS messaging, mobile email, MMS, IMS, location based services, mobile radio and other applications. Best potential is for those applications “that have a high level of current usage”, said David William of Circle. Mobile TV is fairly new and only used by 7% of all respondents and really only in use in Japan and Korea. Respondents require a lot of mobile TV, “It must be available all the time at all places, and Picture quality must be perfect. So it will be very difficult to live up to its expectations if it is not to go the way of other applications such as WAP.”
Digital+ continues Spanish growth
Spanish pay-TV platform Digital+ closed the year on 2,044,000 subscribers, adding 38,000 net subs on the quarter, and 84,000 on the year. The DTH platform continues to be available from both the Astra and Hispasat satellites. The climb in subscriber numbers is due to both an increase in gross additions and a fall in churn, which has been brought now to 11.5%.The 38,000 additions is greater than the fourth quarter figures for 2005 (20,000) and 2004 (22,000). Sogecable, which controls Digital+ and the Canal+ brand in the Spanish market, reported record turnover figures of €1,654.7 million. Revenues were boosted both by Digital+ and the free-TV channel Cuatro. The pay-TV activities recorded an EBITDA of €308m, while the one-year old Cuatro reported a loss of €98.8m.
Virgin acquires HBO VOD package
Virgin Media has announced a major content supply agreement with Home Box Office for a 50-hour package including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Entourage. The programmes, most of which are familiar to Channel 4 viewers, will be housed in a standalone HBO branded destination. This is the first time that the US pay-TV provider has presented its content in the UK under the HBO brand. HBO has established operations in Central and East Europe and last week confirmed plans to launch an S-VOD service. Content will also be made available to BT Vision and Tiscali TV. The Virgin package also includes the comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm and dramas Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon. The package will be available as part of Virgin’s top tier XL TV package.
24th February 2007, 11:14
Premiere reaches 60,000 HD subs
Premiere reaches 60,000 HD subs
Premiere has announced improved figures for its high definition service following two financial quarters when HD barely rated a mention. According to Premiere’s HD newsletter, 60,000 subscribers had signed up to the format by the end of December, an additional 20,000 subs since the German pay-TV platform last made a figure public in its Q2 financials. The broadcaster put the increase down to its November 13 repackaging when the HD movie and sports channels were combined and with Discovery HD offered to consumers for a monthly €9.99. Unsurprisingly the majority of subscribers are combining the HD offer with their existing pay packages.
Dutch public broadcaster prepares for HD
Dutch public broadcaster NOS is to transmit the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in HD. Coverage of the Euro 2008 football championship taking place in Austria and Switzerland will also be televised in high def, said NOS director Gerard Dielissen. Last year the broadcaster decided to transmit the 2006 World Cup games only in SD, eschewing even widescreen, a decision that lead to considerable criticism from viewers. As a compromise cable operators offered a separate widescreen feed to their digital customers. Later this year NOS will bring a new studio into use that is fully HD capable. Total costs of the new studio are around two million Euros.
Dutch Canal Digitaal grows to 700,000
The Dutch digital DTH provider Canal Digitaal has reported that it added 100,000 new subscribers in 2006, reaching a net total of just over 700,000. The last quarter of 2006 was particularly good for the platform due to the switch-off of all analogue Dutch terrestrial broadcasts in early December. The addition of nine regional public broadcasters also proved to be a boost. In the past few weeks a number of new channels have been added to Canal Digitaal’s line up. They include the regional commercial channel RNN7 from the city of Rotterdam and the combined channel Nickelodeon/The Box following Tien (formerly Talpa) becoming a full-time channel. The number of Digitenne DTT customers in The Netherlands stood at 265,000 at the end of 2006, or 44% more than a year earlier. At the same time, KPN’s new service offering Dutch Premier League football (Tele2 Voetbal) for its Digitenne customers had attracted more than 15,000 subscribers at the end of last year.
Thor becomes five
Telenor Satellite Broadcasting has announced the Thor II-R satellite will be known as Thor 5. The satellite is scheduled to launch from Baikonour, Kazakhstan, in October 2007 and is expected to be in full service by the first quarter of 2008. “The Thor name has a strong association with Telenor’s satellite fleet”, said Cato Halsaa, Managing Director of Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. The new satellite will supplement Telenor’s existing service at the one degree West slot the Norwegian company has made its own. It will enable continued coverage of the Nordic region, Europe and the Middle East. Telenor is confident that the combination of niche channels, the demand for high definition capacity and emerging markers will continue to fuel demand. Meanwhile, Telenor is also in the process of replacing its Thor III satellite with a decision expected by the end of April 2007. A procurement process for Thor IV got underway in 2000. Both the RFI and RFP were issued to the market, but before a contract was signed Telenor cancelled the satellite.
14th March 2007, 01:01
Premiere pulls foreign bouquets
Premiere pulls foreign bouquets
German pay TV operator Premiere has pulled the plug on a number of its international bouquets aimed at foreigners living in Germany. Affected are a Russian and an Italian bouquet with Kanäle Perviy, RTVi, Nashe Kino, RTR Planeta, RAI Uno, RAI Due, RAI Tre and Video Italia. Premiere will continue to sell and market a 10 channel Turkish package broadcast from Astra at 23.5 degrees East. The move comes because of disappointing sales with Italians and Russian viewers. Insiders were not surprised, since the four Italian channels are available free of charge on the Eutelsat Hotbird position alongside a few dozen other free-to-air Italian broadcasters including the three popular Mediaset channels Italia Uno, Rete Quattro and Canale 5. For Russian viewer other offers are available with a wider choice of channels.
ODG in Tele Munchen JV
ODG in Tele Munchen JV
On Demand Group has formed a joint venture with Tele München Group to launch a series of on demand and pay-per-view services in the German market. On Demand Deutschland will be based in Münich and cater for the 45 million German-speaking television households in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “We have the perfect combination of content and services to jump-start this market,” Tony Kelly, CEO, On Demand Group. “TMG adds significant local punch to make our offering the obvious choice for the region’s operators.” ODG, owned by SeaChange International, already provides VOD services into Kabel Deutschland as well as the FilmFlex service for Virgin Media. TMG is best known as a shareholder in German stations Tele 5 and RTL2 and the Austrian commercial broadcaster ATV.
Mediaset to launch 8-channel DTT pay service
Mediaset to launch 8-channel DTT pay service
The Italian Mediaset company will launch an 8-channel pay service on DTT, according to a report in the daily Corriere della Sera. The new service would compete with News Corp owned DTH service Sky Italia in the battle for Italian viewers. The service would retail at 8 euro a month and offer movies, cartoons and women’s interest channels. At the moment Mediaset only offers a free-to-air multiplex on DTT with live soccer matches as a premium service. Compared with the Sky DTH platform with dozens of channels the new Mediaset bouquet would only offer a very limited service.
Vivendi posts impressive results
Vivendi posts impressive resultsVivendi saw its net income rise by 17.9% in 2006 to reach €2.6 billion, while its earnings were up by 27.9% to €4 billion. 2006 was a particularly good year for the Canal+ Group, which saw its EBITDA grow to €251 million, excluding the transition costs of the TPS merger in France. The figure represented a 21.8% increase on the 2005 total. Although EBITDA in 2006 rose by 46% in France itself, it was slightly down for Canal+ operations elsewhere including Poland, where the company operates one of the country’s three DTH platforms. Canal recorded 5.14 million subscriptions at the end of 2006, an increase of 76,000 over the past 12 months, with the total of 646,000 new subscribers providing the best performance since 1987. (CD)s €76.8m.
18th March 2007, 08:27
TV news on 18.03.2007
Premiere Sky might run on entavio
Premiere chairman Georg Kofler has said the new Premiere Sky bouquet might run on SES-Astra’s technical pay TV platform entavio. “Constructive talks” are now going on. German pay-TV operator Premiere will launch a bouquet exclusive to DTH under the name Premiere Sky on September 1. The package will contain both existing and new channels. The new company is wholly owned by Premiere and will be headed by Wolfram Winter, who until recently was CEO of the proposed pay TV platform Stargate. Current Premiere subscribers can easily upgrade their subscription by calling a special hotline, after which their card will be switched on in seconds. Premiere has currently 1.7 million DTH households. The total potential for Sky Premiere are the 16.7 million satellite households in Germany and a further 1.8 million in Austria. The service will use the Nagravision encryption system. Kofler expects to have over 1 million Premiere Sky subscribers by 2010.
EC publishes Audiovisual without Frontiers text
The European Commission has published the consolidated text of its revised Television Without Frontiers Directive. The new Audiovisual without Frontiers Directive is designed to provide a legal framework to Europe’s audiovisual sector following developments in video-on-demand, mobile TV and digital TV. The proposals include a relaxation on the amount of advertising that can be screened and for the first time covers product placement. The new rules place a distinction between linear and on demand content. There is also a tightening of the rules concerning the country of origin to ensure broadcasters do not base themselves in one country simply to avoid the rules of another. The text will now go through a second reading by the European Parliament and Council.
National triple play for France
Canal+ and Telecom Italia-backed Alice have teamed up to launch the first-ever triple play service to made available nationally in France. Due to make its debut tomorrow (March 14), AliceBox-Groupe Canal+ will be available for an introductory price of €39.95 a month until May 19 and consist of two offers. The first, known as AliceBox-Canal+ Le Bouquet, will be delivered via ADSL to subscribers who can receive Alice’s IPTV service. The second, AliceBox-Groupe Canal+ or AliceBox Canalsat, will meanwhile be made available via satellite to subscribers who cannot at present receive Alice’s IPTV service. A further option – Canalsat via ADSL – is likely to be provided from this September.
7.7 million Freeview only homes
DTT platform Freeview continues to drive digital conversions in the UK. According to new data published by the regulator Ofcom, around 1,002,000 new digital homes were added in the fourth quarter of 2006, following 800,000 in the previous quarter and including 700,000 DTT ‘Freeview’ homes. 2.4 million DTT boxes sold bringing the total to 7,703,000 DTT households. The figures mean that 77.2% of UK households now receive digital television services on their primary TV set, an increase of 3.9% since the previous quarter, and representing 19.5 million households. Ofcom also estimates there to be around 815,000 free-to-air digital satellite homes – a combination of lapsed Sky Digital subscribers that have maintained their reception equipment and those who have signed up for the freesatfromsky service.
October 17 is Whitehaven digital D-day
October 17 has been named as the date when digital switchover will begin in earnest for 25,000 viewers in the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven. BBC Two’s analogue signal will be switched off first with the remaining channels moving to digital only reception on November 14. On screen messages will appear on the analogue channels in the Whitehaven area in early May, advising viewers as to what is about to happen. Once BBC Two is switched off it will be immediately replaced by ITV, allowing the commercial broadcaster’s analogue frequency to be used for the first of the public service multiplexes comprising BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC News 24 and CBBC. Help with the installation of equipment will be provided to the over 75s by the switchover body Digital UK, while the charity Age Concern will provide practical assistance to pensioners under the age of 75.
Get announces cable poll results
The Norwegian cablenet Get has announced the results of its recent viewer survey that determines the composition of the operator’s basic packages. The result is that Eurosport, TV2 Zebra and Disney Channel will be added to the analogue package while Showtime, Star, SBS-backed music channel The Voice and Danish public broadcaster DR1 now have a place in the digital package. Around 8,000 households were invited to take part in the survey, which followed an earlier study conducted by the former UPC Norway last October. Participants were given the option of selecting a recommended package or choosing from an ’a la carte’ menu. 30.3% completed the survey; of these 69% voted for the recommended package and 31% for the a la carte menu. The changes take effect on June 1.
Swisscom confirms Fastweb bid
State-owned telco Swisscom has unveiled a €3.7 billion friendly cash bid for Italy’s Fastweb. Speculation about a possible bid emerged over the weekend with the broadband operator later asking for its shares to be temporarily suspended from the Italian stock exchange. “Italy is one of the most attractive broadband markets in Europe with significant expected growth potential over the next few years,” said a Swisscom statement. Swisscom says its offer is conditional on it being able to secure 50% plus one share in Fastweb. The deal would be funded through a combination of debt and the placement of 4.9 million shares.
Hot Bird channels at 8 not 2
Eutelsat has moved all of its Hot Bird 2 customers to the co-located Hot Bird 8 satellite. The changes were made as a precautionary measure overnight on March 14 after an anomaly was observed in the power sub system of the ten year old Matra Marconi Atlas IIA craft. Channels impacted by the move include those belonging to Sky Italia, RAI, ART and Nova, although the frequencies concerned remain unchanged, meaning that no consumer action is required. The anomaly is now under investigation by Eutelsat’s technical team.
One million broadband subs take ONO into Q4 profit
Spanish cable operator ONO ended 2006 with over one million residential broadband subscribers. The cablenet, which also added 140,000 net new cable subscribers, increased the number of revenue generating units – the average amount of services taken by subscribers to 1.97 from 1.88. Net profitability was finally reached in the fourth quarter of 2006 recording a net result of €8 million. Overall, ONO reported a full year EBITDA of €558m, and a loss of €39m. Video-on-demand service Ojo is now available to subscribers in Madrid and Barcelona and the network of the former Auna cablenet has now been upgraded to similar standards to that of ONO.
25th March 2007, 12:15
news at 25.03.2007
BBC: DTT HD loss could reach £15.6 billion
The loss to the UK in private and social value if HD services are not allowed to develop on DTT spectrum could be as much as £15.6 billion (€23.01m). The figure was revealed as part of the BBC’s response to the Ofcom consultation on the Digital Dividend Review, which closed on Tuesday. The figure, that has a range between £4.1 and £15.6 billion was calculated by Indepen Consulting, and is based on the loss from reduced audiences to public service broadcasting, the reduction is value caused by people migrating from the platform, and the social value from the loss of universal provision, should HD become the standard format. The BBC says that the Freeview DTT platform must be able to compete with the other platforms by offering a critical mass of HD channels.
France Televisions gets HD cash
The French public broadcaster France Televisions is to push ahead with an expansion of high definition and digital terrestrial services following the approval of a new five-year budget. €21 million has already been set aside for the launch of a high definition version of France 3 this September. The French State has agreed to a 3.5% increase for 2008, and further increases expected to reach 2.9% in 2009 and 2.6% in 2010. The budget, which will now be submitted to the financial and cultural committees of the French National Assembly, also commits to continued support for French and European productions.
Austria’s RTR to subsidise set-top boxes
The Austrian media regulator RTR is to spend €5 million on subsidising 66,666 boxes at €60 each to encourage the transition to digital broadcasting. Currently, subscribers of 25 operators serving 440,000 of the country’s 1.2 million cable households are able to switch to digital. The cable boxes in question cost around €125 without a subsidy, and operators will provide customers with vouchers that may be exchanged for discounted receivers from April 1 onwards. Liwest and ASAK will offer SD boxes at €19.90 and HD boxes at €99 each. Another programme to help the transition to digital broadcasting is already in place and will run until this October.
Liberty seeks Irish DTT assurances
Liberty Global has approached the Irish government to seek assurances that RTE will not be allowed to carry commercial digital television services as part of the analogue switch off process. Liberty, which as UPC Ireland is the country’s principal cable operator, says that it will level a complaint with the European Commission should the public broadcaster offer commercial carriage. Liberty says that the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill, currently before the Irish parliament, creates “ambiguity” about RTE’s position. Liberty’s Chellomedia is one of a number of parties interested in becoming multiplex operators when the Irish DTT system gets underway.
Cablecom CA reported hacked
The conditional access system used by the Swiss cablenet Cablecom has reportedly been hacked by smart card pirates. The Sonntagszeitung newspaper said that hackers had cracked the encryption codes used by Cablecom, which operates with the Nagara Kudelski CA system, and published them on the Internet. It is then possible to enter the codes into the Dreambox digital TV decoder. Programmes can then be accessed without a legitimate Cablecom subscription. Kudelski is currently dealing with this latest security breach and with Cablecom intends to sue anyone caught pirating its system. Four such cases are currently awaiting prosecution.
German easy.tv ends services
Last Thursday the German pay TV operator easy.tv terminated their broadcasts over the Astra satellite at 19.2 degrees East. The bouquet was owned by PrimaCom and offered a number of channels including Extreme Sports, AXN, Silverline (movies) and National Geographic as well as adult entertainment. The channels were available with prepaid cards using the satellite infrastructure of ORS. The service was launched in Austria one year ago and Germany followed a few months later. The company claimed 650,000 Cryptoworks smart cards were distributed in Austria and some 400,000 on the German market. The cards could be upgraded by calling a premium phone line or over the Internet. PrimaCom decided to end the easy.tv services “on economic grounds.”
Telenet posts 800,000 broadband subs
Telenet, the Flemish cable operator controlled by Liberty Global, now has 800,000 broadband Internet subscribers. This represents a penetration rate of 30%, or the same figure as for cable homes in the territory as a whole. The 800,000 subscribers include 43,700 that were formerly served by UPC Belgium, which Telenet took control of at the beginning of this year.
Ascent opens European Transmission Centre
Ascent Media has unveiled its new European Transmission Centre located at its offices in Stephen Street, Central London. The facility has been designed to offer playout to up to 32 channels. The centre is already in use with Sony Pictures Television International using the facility for the playout of its AXN branded channels into Central Europe. The launch of the ETC is the first phase of a tiered investment by Ascent Media that will see the development of ingest and output facilities for broadcasters seeking a turnkey broadcast solution. Owned by the Discovery Holding Company, Ascent has content distribution and systems consulting, engineering, integration and support facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Stamford, Minneapolis, and Singapore.
RTP contemplates launching pay channels
Portuguese public broadcaster RTP is contemplating the launch of a number of pay channels. Following the introduction of a new television law on March 30 the broadcaster will be allowed to set up new public service channels for young people and other specialist genres. However, the cash strapped RTP does not have sufficient funds available for the new ventures. At a recent conference about public service broadcasting organised by RTP, Minister Augusto Santos Silva has warned that it will not be possible for the state to put more resources into the public TV service, resulting in the need for the channels to levy a subscription.
Super docu channel for Iberia
Sogecable and chellomedia’s Multicanal have announced an agreement under which the latter will acquire the assets of the documentary channel Documania. Multicanal will then go on re-launch its own documentary channel Odisea in April, offering a much wider variety of programming than at present. Both Documenia and Odisea are long-established services, having been launched 14 and 10 years ago respectively. As a result of the deal, Odisea will become the leading documentary channel not just in Spain but also in neighbouring Portugal.
Israeli VOD launch for Hallmark
Hallmark Channel is to introduce a video on demand service on the HOT cable network in Israel. Commencing in April, subscribers will be able to choose from a library that includes mini-series Alice in Wonderland, Larry Mcmurtry’s - Dead Man’s Walk and A Girl Thing; series McLeod’s Daughters and movies Hound of the Baskervilles, Nowhere to land, Restless Sprits and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. The service comprises a mix of catch-up elements and paid for titles. Hallmark is one of Israel’s top ten multichannel networks. Its programmes are available in subtitled Hebrew or dubbed into Russian.
News at 06.04.2007
UK digital TV networks consolidated
Arqiva has bought National Grid Wireless (NGW), bringing together the privatised transmission arms of both the former IBA and the BBC, in a deal worth £2.5 billion (€3.69 billion). NGW, headquartered in Warwick, comprises a national communications infrastructure network that provides broadcast transmission services for BBC television and radio, hosts wireless sites for major mobile network operators and owns and operates two Freeview digital TV multiplexes. Arqiva had already been selected by the BBC as the preferred supplier of its distribution network and managed transmission service for digital terrestrial television in the UK.
UPC Netherlands confirms VOD launch
UPC Netherlands MD Diederik Karsten has told the Dutch national cable congress Kabel in de 21e Eeuw that the cablenet will launch its VOD service on April 16. It follows a limited test in 500 households. Initially VOD will only be available to the 60,000 households in the Gelderland and Brabant regions, before being extended to the rest of the network. At launch UPC will offer a selection of 35 recent films and 200 library titles. 250 hours of television series and 75 hours of children’s’ programmes will be offered as part of a subscription TV service. There will also be a free VOD offer. UPC already offers a limited NVOD (near-video-on-demand) service.
Virgin Media launches DTT box
Virgin Media is to extend its ‘free’ digital TV offer into non-cabled areas. The company has contracted Bridgend-based Tvonics to manufacture a Virgin-branded set-top box that will be capable of receiving the 40 or so channels on the UK DTT system. Tvonics, which also supplies the UK retail chain Currys has designed Virgin a new casing, and the receiver also runs its own Virgin EPG. The box also features a remote eye – allowing the paperback book sized unit to be hidden from view. The receiver is being offered to new customers of the former Virgin.net business. Existing customers can also purchase the box for a one-off £40.
Sparrowhawk swoops in on kids
Sparrowhawk Media, DIC Entertainment and Corus Entertainment have teamed up to launch a multiplatform global television channel aimed at children and families. The first launch of the channel, currently known as KidsCo is, expected this autumn in Central and Eastern Europe, extending later in 2008 and 2009 to around 40 territories in the Europe, Latin America and Asian Pacific region. It marks a reversal in fortune within the kids TV market, with terrestrial airtime coming under pressure, and the absorption of Fox Kids into the Disney-owned Jetix. Sparrowhawk’s CEO David Hulbert is a former president of Walt Disney International Television. The company runs The Hallmark Channel outside the United States and movies24. The BBC is also planning to launch an international children’s brand.
Austrian DTT rollout continues
Digital rollout in Austria continues according to schedule, according to ORS, the company responsible for the transmitter network. Before the summer the cities of Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz will only have DTT transmitters on air and no more analogue coverage. On May 7 the analogue transmitter serving Innsbruck will be switched off, followed on June 4th by the cities of Salzburg and Linz. After the summer the other regional capitals will also become “all digital”. Three weeks before the final switch-off all analogue transmitters will carry a scroll bar announcing the upcoming end of analogue transmissions.
[b]History Channel comes to Benelux
The History Channel is finally coming to the Benelux. A launch is planned in the second quarter of this year beginning with the UPC Netherlands network. Other agreements will be announced soon. Chellomedia’s Digital Media Centre (DMC) will transmit the signal for The History Channel from its technical facility in Amsterdam to the Benelux as well as to Scandinavia. In addition, Chellomedia will act as a distribution representative for The History Channel in the Benelux for pay-TV platforms.
Q2 launch for Dutch Sci-Fi, 13th Street
The two NBC-Universal channels Sci-Fi and 13th street are to launch on the UPC platform in the Netherlands in the second quarter of the year. Wider distribution is expected in the Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium by the end of 2007. In the Benelux the channels will be represented by Chellomedia, a sister company to cable operator UPC. In its opening month Sci-Fi will screen Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, New Battlestar Galactica, Tremors, Sliders and Dark Angel. Viewers to 13th Street will see Monk, House, Law & Order Criminal Intent and a Sunday night featuring the best of British detective dramas such as Cracker, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Vincent.
UPC: No more minimum guarantees
Donald Koeleman reports from the Dutch national cable congress
“People come to me with their roll of cookies, for me to put up on my shelves, but then ask me to first finance their cookie factory. That’s something I don’t see Albert Heijn [Holland’s leading supermarket chain] do either”, UPC Netherlands CEO Diederik Karsten told the Dutch national cable congress, Kabel in de 21e Eeuw, as he formally announced the launch of the cable operator’s Video-on-Demand service. Adding, “we have serious doubts about the minimum guarantee model”.
This call to end the traditional model of minimum guarantees represents a clear shift in the balance of power between content suppliers and distributors. A shift similar has taken place in the supermarket arena. Here top brands that used to tell stores how much shelf space to reserve for their product lines, and how much to spend on promoting the top brand, are now being replaced with store brands and forced to lower wholesale prices by the supermarket chains.
In the late ’90s major distribution companies trampled each other to get to the content providers first, spending billions to acquire content providers to fill their pipes with stuff to lure customers to their (broadband) services. This was followed by the years of drought, restructuring, in which there was no money to develop new services. Services are now beginning to bloom again.
“Indeed, we now are that big. Large enough for anybody to be interested to work with us on the basis of a revenue share”, added Manuel Kohnstamm VP of public and regulatory affairs at UPC’s parent Liberty Global International.
In the past the cable operator has had some less than fortunate experiences with minimum guarantees, paying the suite of Sony/Disney owned premium movie channels Cinenova for a penetration rate that exceeded its digital penetration as UPC had halted its mass digital roll-out as part of its (financial) restructuring.
14th April 2007, 07:26
TV News on 14.04.2007
Virgin commences High Court action
Virgin Media has confirmed it is to challenge what it perceives as anti-completive behaviour by Sky. Yesterday (Thursday), the cablenet began proceedings in the High Court in a bid to resolve the long running carriage fee dispute between Virgin and Sky, which culminated in last month’s withdrawal of Sky’s basic channels from Virgin subscribers. Virgin is also seeking to revisit its own carriage fee agreement with Sky over the carriage of Virgin Media channels including Living, Bravo and Trouble on the Sky DTH platform. Virgin is basing its case on Section 18 of the UK Competition Act 1998 and Article 82 of the EC Treaty, arguing that Sky is abusing a dominant position, and attempting to stifle competition. It says that while over estimating the value of its own channels it has undervalued those operated by Virgin.
Digiturk IPO this year
Turkey’s DTH pay platform Digitürk is planning a stock market flotation just a year after the private equity company Providence Equity Partners bought a 47% stake in the operator. The float would value the company at around $1.5 billion (€1.1bn). It is anticipated that 30% of the pay-TV operator would be offered to the market in what are seen as currently favourable conditions. Digitürk launched in March 2000 and is controlled by the conglomerate Cukurova, whose interests also include the mobile operator Turkcell. Around 1.2 million subscribers receive a package of 130 channels distributed from Eutelsat W3A (7 degrees East).
Dreambox maker defends piracy claims
The German manufacturer of the Dreambox Linux-based set-top boxes has distanced itself from legal action being undertaken by the Kudelski Group. The Swiss security company has launched legal action against two sellers of pirate cards in the wake of the recent breach in its conditional access system deployed by Cablecom. Dream says that it does not support smart card piracy or the activities of the pay-TV pirates and will back any action against them. However, the Lünen-based company is quite clearly irked by the implication that the Dreambox product itself is illegal, and says the problem lies with illegal software patches and smart cards. The company says it will take its own legal action against anyone claiming the Dreambox to be illegal.
New IPTV service for Spain
The Deutsche Telekom-backed company Ya.com has launched a new IPTV service in Spain. Employing the Microsoft IPTV Edition software platform favoured by almost all other Deutsche Telekom operations in Europe, Ya.com TV offers subscribers a basic package of 24 TV channels that will in due course be expanded to include TDT (DTT) services. Reception is possible through a decoder with an 80GB hard disk and a double TDT synthesiser. Ya.com YTV is being made available as part of a triple play offer that includes a 20Mbps ADSL connection and costs €39.95 a month. IPTV services are already provided in Spain by the incumbent telco Telefónica (Imagenio TV) and alternative carrier Jazztel (Jazztelia TV).
Canal Digital Denmark goes HD
Canal Digital is extending its high definition TV service to Denmark. The cable, satellite and IPTV operator is launching a nationwide campaign on April 16. Danish viewers will initially have a five channel service available, comprising the premium channels Canal+ Film HD and Canal+ Sport HD; and basic channels Discovery, National Geographic and Voom. It is hoped to expand the package to 10 channels by the end of 2008. A dedicated unit from Sagem has now replaced the initial supply of set-top boxes, manufactured by Force and Grundig. The HD channels are being offered free to subscribers for the first six months of operation. Canal Digital has already launched HD services in Norway and Sweden.
Finnish cable gets analogue extension
The Finnish transport and telecommunications ministry has said that it is prepared to grant cable operators an extension if they are unable to upgrade all their subscribers to digital TV. The ministry said that it would allow digital signals to be converted back to analogue until February 2008 if less than 85% of cable households had acquired a digital converter. The proposal is dependent on the agreement of the broadcasters, leading to disagreement at the public broadcaster YLE, with two senior executives taking opposing positions. YLE chairman Hannu Olkinuora said the broadcaster would only be prepared to allow the conversion if all of its digital channels were included. However, Mika Lintilä the outgoing chairman of YLE’s administrative council said the broadcaster would not allow the analogue retransmission of digital channels. Finland has long since established August 31, 2007 and the date for analogue switch off to be completed.
German MSOs triple broadband subs
Deutscher Kabelverband, the trade association representing the leading German cable operators Kabel Deutschland, Kabel BW and Unity Media, has said that its members more than tripled their broadband subscriber count in 2006. The number of broadband clients grew from 114,000 to 390,000 in 2006, and as of the end of the year 293,000 households subscribed to cable telephony, up from a mere 63,000 12 months earlier. The number of (premium) pay-TV customers meanwhile stood at 1,234,000 at the end of 2006, up from 575,000 a year earlier. Deutscher Kabelverband expects its members’ service uptake to continue to grow fast due to continued investments in network upgrades, extending the reach of two-way triple play services from 13.5 million to 19 million homes in 2007.
New growth for Boxer
Sweden’s DTT pay platform Boxer added a further 18,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2007. As of March 31, 2007, Boxer had 672,000 subscribers to its digital TV service, representing an increase of 103,000 year-on-year, a growth of 18%. “In recent years, many private Swedish households have switched to digital, resulting in a trend where the influx of new customers is falling. However, each individual customer is buying more from us and the Boxer Tvillingkort (twin card) in particular is proving very popular,” says Henrik Skullman, managing director of Boxer. Skullman says that Boxer has been able to counter the growing number if free digital channels by launching new channel packages and services for its customers.
Sony in French VOD deal
Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) has announced a new content deal with Virginmega in France. The new online service will have access to hit movies including The Da Vinci Code and Open Season (Les Rebelles de la Forêt). It is the first deal with a Hollywood studio struck by Virginmega. The content is also being made available to Telecom Italia backed IPTV operator Alice through the Mes Vidéos à la Carte service as part of a separate agreement signed between Alice and Virginmega in January 2007. Other content from Sony Pictures Entertainment includes recent hits Little Man and Monster House together with blockbusters from earlier in the decade; XXX, Men in Black and Charlie’s Angels.
Al Jazeera debuts in Turkey
The Turkish DTH platform Digiturk has signed a carriage agreement with Al Jazeera English, the English language service of the Al Jazerra Network. The service will now be made available as part of Digiturk’s basic package, which includes a number of other international news channels. Digiturk is owned by the Cukurova Group and has over 1.2 million subscribers, while Al Jazeera English is available to over 90 million households worldwide.
18th April 2007, 08:34
Intelsat Assists UK Digital Switch Over With Distribution Services to Arqiva
Intelsat Assists UK Digital Switch Over With Distribution Services to Arqiva
Pembroke, Bermuda, 17 April 2007
Intelsat today announced a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract with Arqiva for satellite capacity to carry digital programming for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) following its digital switch over. Intelsat is providing space segment capacity on its IS-907 satellite at 332.5º E which Arqiva will use as part of its distribution solution to around 90 main terrestrial transmitter sites in the United Kingdom.
“We are happy to entrust Intelsat with this important task which provides us with cost-effective coverage of the UK as part of the distribution system for the BBC’s digital channels,” said Steve Holebrook, Managing Director, Arqiva Terrestrial Media Solutions. “The capacity on IS-907 provides us with an excellent technical solution, based on its high-power UK coverage. Intelsat was also flexible in its approach, helping us meet the commercial and technical needs of the BBC.”
“Intelsat has played a key role for many years in the distribution of terrestrial television signals with Arqiva,” said Jean-Philippe Gillet, Intelsat’s Regional Vice President, Europe & Middle East. “The addition of the BBC’s digital switchover program reinforces the high-performance, high-reliability solution we are able to provide to our video customers.”
18th April 2007, 08:54
Spanish Digital+ will go through DSL
Spanish Digital+ will go through DSL
17 April 2007
Spanish digital platform Digital+ will likely also offer DSL service thorugh Telefonica network. This was the rumor that was running for months now, but the economical newspaper La Gaceta de los Negocios published an article quoting the forthcoming service. Sogecable, main shareholder of Digital+, will offer the pay-TV service, as well as DSL and phone services using Telefonica technical network. In compensation, Telefonica's pay-TV DSL service, Imagenio, will broadcast the only premier channel Sogecable still offers exclusively, Canal+.
It is also more than likely that Imagenio and Digital+ might merge within a reasonable time frame - over a year from now, depending on figures.
18th April 2007, 08:58
Viaccess strengthens its partnership with Home2US
Viaccess strengthens its partnership with Home2US, the fastest growing international DTH platform in the USA - 17/04/2007
Viaccess , the European leader in conditional access for pay television and protection of digital content over broadband networks, announces that it has concluded a new deployment to protect new channel launches on Home2US DTH platform on SES-Americom’s AMC-4 satellite and on Home2US Viaccess platform.
This decision extends the relationship between the two companies that have been working together for more than 3 years. Since the introduction of Viaccess CAS on its platform, Home2US quadrupled the number of subscribers on its premier DTH platform and continues to experience a surge in the number of subscribers.
Home2US has recently introduced in its TAN TV line-up channel # 5, YTN, South Korea’s leading 24/7 News Channel. TAN TV channel # 6 will follow in Q-2 to be followed by TAN TV # 7 in Q-3 of 2007.
Home2US offer will utilize the latest generation of services and cards, Viaccess Buda Card, developed by Viaccess.
“An important reason for renewing our trust in Viaccess is our strong belief in the security of their solutions. The introduction of Viaccess’ latest technology to protect our new channel offerings are new steps in our extensive plan to eradicate piracy”, declared Emrah Ozkan, President and CEO of Home2US Communications, Inc. As we roll forward with our efforts to broaden our reach in North and South American markets as well as rest of the globe, we will keep expanding our relationship with Viaccess and consider implementing their proven technologies in IPTV/Broadband platforms as well.”
“We have been working closely with Home2US for many years, we know each other very well, understand the requirements of a fast growing organization and we have been able to meet their requirements in term of security and flexibility very fast”, says Mathias Hautefort, Viaccess CEO.
19th April 2007, 19:01
Premiere selects entavio
Premiere programmes to be offered via entavio / SES ASTRA offers third parties access to Premiere satellite receivers
Betzdorf, Luxembourg, 19 April 2007. – SES ASTRA, an SES company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG), announced today that pay-TV broadcaster Premiere has signed an agreement to use SES ASTRA’s digital satellite platform entavio in Germany. Starting on September 1, 2007, new Premiere customers will be offered the Premiere programmes also via entavio. With this agreement, entavio wins a first important pay-TV client for its technical services. entavio-enabled receivers will be widely available in the market.
The new agreement also improves SES ASTRA`s ability to offer all broadcasters access to more than 2.5 million Premiere and Premiere-enabled satellite receivers in German TV households. SES ASTRA will continue to offer this access to other programme operators on neutral and transparent terms. SES ASTRA thereby further increases the attractiveness of its service portfolio to broadcasters.
“The agreement with Premiere is a major step forward for entavio, and gives us the critical mass for the upcoming market start of our new satellite connection”, said Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES ASTRA. “entavio positions itself as an open and neutral technical satellite platform, which gives satellite households access to a whole range of digital TV programmes and services, and offers programme operators access to those households. SES ASTRA thereby further strengthens its position as a neutral technical service provider for broadcasters, and creates a broad basis for extended offers and more competition in the pay-TV market.”
Georg Kofler, CEO of Premiere: “We are delighted to be part of this important project to enhance digitalisation right from the start. The addressable digital TV receiver with a smart card is a futureproof concept. entavio will grow with Premiere – and Premiere with entavio. Backed by the technical and economic strength of SES ASTRA, entavio will soon become an important player in the market for digital TV. Furthermore, the reception of Premiere via entavio will in a few years become as easy and natural for millions of TV homes as receiving a telephone call.“
20th April 2007, 09:18
TV news on 20.04.2007
Cartel Office fears over Premiere-Arena pact
Premiere has suspended marketing of the Arena digital package until May 31 after Germany’s Federal Cartel Office announced a period of consultation, raising fears that the authorities may force the agreement between the two pay-TV platforms to be dismantled. Media concentration remains a key area of concern within Germany as demonstrated by the opposition to Astra’s plans to establish a DTH pay platform. The Arena satellite package, including the key live coverage of Bundesliga soccer, will continue to be available by satellite, and Premiere homes with a Bundesliga subscription also remain unaffected. Premiere will also continue to market the Arena package over the Kabel Deutschland network while Arena’s parent company Unity Media will market Premiere in the ish and isey cable areas. The companies have all promised to co-operate with the investigation.
Arena losses “in line with expectations”
German pay-TV platform Arena gained 1,035,000 subscribers in its first five months of operation. The Unity Media company accrued €82 million in revenues and made an EBITDA loss of €132m, in line with the company’s expectations. Its pre-launch activities cost €31m. The figures were revealed within Unity Media’s full-year results to December 31, 2006, which have just been published. The company said that its cable operations in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse had significantly grown the number of subscribers taking triple play services. As of March 31, 2007, the number of RGUs (Revenue Generating Units) taking cable, internet and telephony represented 13% of the total, some 721,000 in all. Revenues at Unity Media Cable rose by 5.6% to €599 million. The company marginally increased its EBITDA from €262 million in 2005 to €269m in 200.
Freeview overtakes Sky, confirms DVR launch
The Freeview DTT platform has overtaken BSkyB as the most popular means of receiving digital television in the UK. Freeview says that there are now 8.2 million homes where DTT-enabled sets are the primary means of watching digital TV. This compares with 7.7 million homes at the end of 2006. In its last reported numbers BSkyB was in 7.975m UK homes. Freeview has also confirmed that its Playback DVR brand will launch next month. Cary Wakefield, general manager of the Freeview consortium, described its introduction as “the next chapter of success for us.” She predicted sales of 10 million devices by 2012. Freeview will not manufacture the units itself, but will award the Playback label to manufacturers that are able to meet a series of specifications that have been drawn up by the UK’s Digital TV Group. The devices will cost around £150, according to the specifications.
entavio platform to host Premiere
SES Astra has won Premiere as the first client for its entavio pay-TV platform. In the process the two companies have avoided the possibilities of multiple receivers as German satellite subscribers grapple with multiple technical systems. The result is that entavio will manage Premiere’s DTH subscriptions and at the same time offer other broadcasters access to the 2.5 million Premiere and Premiere-enabled satellite receivers in the German market. entavio will pick up its responsibilities on September 1. German broadcaster RTL and MTV have already agreed to use the platform. In addition to the management and distribution of the content it is hoped that entavio will reignite interest in interactive services.
RTL to acquire John de Mol’s Tien
According to Dutch newspaper reports, John de Mol’s Tien channel will be acquired by RTL Nederland. However, a spokesperson for De Mol said no deal has been signed. Tien would be turned into an RTL branded channel, probably RTL10, but programming from the channel would be spread across the RTL network. RTL would also incorporate Radio 538, but the other stations owned by De Mol’s Talpa Radio would stay outside the deal. These include AM Radio 10 Gold, some web based stations as well as Danish radio stations. In return De Mol would get a 25 - 30% in RTL Nederland as well as an output guarantee for his production firm.
Strategy Analytics: 44% of Euro homes HD by 2012
European sales of high definition television displays and video devices are expected to climb this year by a massive 158%, according to new research from Strategy Analytics. By the end of 2007 there are expected to be 28.1 million installed units, and by 2012 some 70% of European homes are expected to own at least one HD capable TV, compared to just 8% in 2006. A walk through the TV sections of most electrical retailers will show that the majority of large screen TV displays on sale are badged as HD Ready. This makes the report’s adoption forecast models all the more revealing. It concludes that by 2012, 44% of European homes will own HDTV receivers in the form of set-top boxes and integrated digital TVs. HD digital media players account for 27%, HD disc players 26% and HD portable devices 15%.
Highfield opens BBC Archive trial
MIP-TV CANNES – The BBC’s director of future media and technology Ashley Highfield has announced a limited trial of the BBC Archive on the bbc.co.uk website and DTT. Speaking at MIP-TV-Milia, Highfield expanded on the topic he had previously addressed at the IPTV World Forum in London last month. “New, hybrid set-top boxes that combine broadcast TV with an IP connection; give us additional opportunities to deliver on-demand services via Freeview. Hybrid boxes are a part of the future, as important – if not more so – than standard PVRs,” said Highfield. Around 1,000 hours of content drawn from a mix of genres will be made available to a closed user environment of 20,000 hours. A limited amount of content, 50 hours, of TV and radio programmes will be made available for general access.
UK broadband lagging behind
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) has warned that Britain’s broadband infrastructure is in need of a serious upgrade if the country is not to fall behind competing nations. In its report the government advisory group said that uncertainties surrounding next generation broadband must be resolved within the next two years or the digital divide will widen further. The report says that the UK’s current broadband infrastructure may not be able to meet the increasing demands of both users and content providers. According to the report there is little prospect for the widespread deployment of next generation broadband, even though there are significant benefits to the economy, because operators are unable to justify the additional expense.
UPC Ireland goes triple play
UPC Ireland has introduced a new broadband and digital phone package as the cablenet continues to rollout its next generation networks. Customers to the NTL Ireland and Chorus branded networks will pay a monthly €24 for the service. The new offer combines with the existing digital TV packages. The service is currently being rolled out across Dublin and is already available to 40,000 homes in Galway and Waterford. Limerick and Cork will be upgraded before the end of the year by when UPC expects to have 375,000 upgraded. Across its various networks UPC has 2.7 million customers using its telephony services.
28th April 2007, 08:05
TV News at 28.04.2007
TV News at 28.04.2007
Eutelsat and TDF in potential merger
Active trading in Eutelsat shares has fuelled speculation that the satellite operator could be heading towards a multibillion Euro merger with telecommunications and broadcast infrastructure group TDF. According to the French financial magazine Challenges, la Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), which holds 26% in Eutelsat and another 24% in TDF, believes a combined entity would have benefits to both companies. “The new entity, which would hold a key position in the sector of broadcasting and telecommunications, would be worth around €8 billion, based on global sales of about €1.4 billion,” explains the magazine. However, in order to achieve its aim CDC would first have to convince the Spanish operator Albertis, which holds 32% in Eutelsat, and the American TPG, which has a 42% stake in TDF to go along with the project.
Motorola CherryPicks Terayon for $140m
Motorola is to purchase Terayon Communications Systems in a deal worth $140 million (€114.95m). Terayon is best known for video processing solutions that optimise bandwidth on cable systems. It came to prominence in the early 1990s through the CherryPicker grooming product, which has now been deployed on more than 7,800 occasions. Israeli brothers Shlomo and Zaki Rakiv founded Terayon. The two will retain 11% of the company’s shares while Motorola will hold the remaining 89%. Following the completion of the transaction, Terayon will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola, and will be integrated into the Connected Home Solutions business. Terayon will keep its operations in Santa Clara, California.
Viasat grows pay-TV business
Results published by Sweden’s Modern Times Group (MTG) show that Viasat Broadcasting’s premium subscriber base in the Nordic pay-TV sector in Q1 2007 was 15% larger than in the corresponding period in 2006. Furthermore, 21% of its premium subscriber base was accounted for by 155,000 Viasat+ and Multiroom subscriptions. Meanwhile in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic DTH pay-TV platform more than doubled its subscriber base year-on-year, while 18 channels in 26 territories reached 8.8 million subscribers. Viasat Broadcasting’s Pay-TV Nordic business posted net sales of SEK877 million (€95.4 million) in Q1 2007, or 17% more than in Q1 2006. At the same time, its operating income (EBIT) was up by 18% to SEK148 million.
Turkish DTT six months away
Digital terrestrial transmissions are expected to commence in Turkey within the next six months. According to the national daily Hurriyet, DTT will begin in 13 major cities following the first meeting of Anten Corp, the recently established national transmission agency. Star TV’s Nuri Colakoglu, who has been appointed as the chairman of Anten Corp, is quoted as saying that the organisation agreed to issue a tender for a common antenna system. Five antenna towers will be required to serve Istanbul alone. Anten Corp’s executive board consists of members from the ministry of transport, public broadcaster TRT, and private broadcasters Kanal D, Show TV, ATV, Star TV, NTV, Kanal 7 and STV.
Thomson set-top growth
Thomson shipped 5.3 million set-top boxes in the first quarter of 2007. The French company said that its Access Products activities showed good growth, particularly in the cable and telecom sector, however the markets served by the Broadcast & Networks division continued to slow as the trend experienced in the final quarter of 2006 continued. 2.1 million satellite set-tops were shipped in the Q1 2007, compared to 2.3m in Q1 2006. However, the slight fall was more than compensated for by the cable sector where the number of boxes shipped doubled to 0.6 million. At the same time 2.6 million access products were shipped to telecom operators, compared to 2 million on 2006.
Neuf Cegetel confirms Deutsche Telekom talks
In a statement delivered on Wednesday morning before the opening of the exchanges, Neuf Cegetel confirmed it is in exclusive talks with Deutsche Telekom to buy its French subsidiary Club Internet. By acquiring the 600,000 Club Internet customers from DT Neuf would jump into second place with 2.67 million homes, but still lagging far behind market leader Orange (France Telecom) with 4.2 million ISP customers. All three ISPs each offer their own managed IPTV service, again with Orange TV being the largest with over 500,000 IPTV homes; Free has around 390,000 and the Club Internet IPTV service launched last year.
Com Hem’s triple play boost
Sweden’s largest cable operator Com Hem has improved its first quarter EBITDA by 14% as the company further developed its triple play offer. EBITDA rose to SEK355 million (€34.18m) compared to SEK311m in the first quarter of 2006. The number of triple play customers increased by 29,000 to 110,000. Com Hem intends to further integrate the three services in order to increase the benefits to the customer of subscribing to video, voice and internet services. In total 59,000 new customers were added to the network as net sales were raised by 15% to SEK842 million. There are now 343,000 digital TV subscribers out of 1,782,000 connected households.
Telenor selects Spacebus for Thor 6
Telenor Satellite Broadcasting has commissioned Thales Alenia Space to build its new satellite Thor 6. The satellite will be based on Thales Alenia Space Spacebus 4000B2 platform and fitted with 36 active Ku-band transponders. 16 transponders will point to the Nordic countries, and 20 transponders towards the burgeoning Central and East Europe market. Thor 6 will be co-located with the remainder of the Thor fleet at the one degree West position. It will bring the number of available transponders at One West to 71 and completes the replacement programme for the Thor II and Thor III satellites. Thor III is scheduled to be retired in 2010. The order allows for a 26-month in-orbit delivery schedule. Services are expected to commence in summer 2009 with an operational lifetime of 15 years.
SES in C-band call
SES New Skies has written to its customers, calling on them to challenge proposals to have the so-called C-band reassigned to terrestrial mobile services. In a letter signed by both SES New Skies President and CEO Robert Bednarek and SES President and CEO Romain Bausch, the company calls on its customers to lobby their national governments and regulators to oppose the move, arguing that were the proposals to be approved there would be a negative impact on the satellite business. SES began lobbying against the change last year. In the run up to the ITU frequencies conference in October it now says it has reached a critical stage in its campaign.
32 applicants for Austrian DTT
Thirty-two applications have been received for the second DTT mulitplex in Austria due to launch this October. These include 16 proposals for TV channels and 16 for radio stations. Due to the limited availability of spectrum space television will have priority. The Österreichische Rundfunksender GmbH & Co KG (ORS), the technical subsidiary of pubic broadcaster ORF, and responsible for building the transmitter network, is very pleased with the interest and has to finish negotiations with the new broadcasters before mid-June. A third multiplex will be issued later this year and will mainly be reserved for regional broadcasters and initiatives.
TV news at 07.05.2007
ITV announces online VOD
ITV has confirmed the details of its new web-based on demand service that will include live streaming, a 30-day catch-up service, archive and exclusive content. The new site at ITV.com will go live within the next few weeks, most likely ahead of the launch of the BBC iPlayer, which on Monday received approval from the BBC Trust. So-called ‘click and watch’ technology will provide users with instant access without the need for software downloads. Much of the site will also be free-to-access, unlike Channel 4’s online 4oD service. The broadcaster has developed an interactive programme guide that can be customised by favourites or genre. It will also send out text and email reminders before a show airs.
For Premiere Sky 20 is the limit
The German Premiere Sky platform will limit the number of channels in its bouquet to 20, according to spokesperson Michael Jachan. So far about 50 channels have applied for a place on the proposed pay-TV platform due to launch in September. Premiere Sky will start during the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin and will bring together a number of existing and new thematic channels on satellite. The platform is headed by Wolfram Winter and will use the technical infrastructure of the Astra entavio service. Reception will be possible with any receiver equipped with Nagra encryption, but the company plans to issue labels to identify receivers suitable for reception of the service.
BBC on-demand gets Trust go-ahead
The BBC Trust has given the green light to a series of proposals for on demand services including the much-delayed iPlayer. Over 10,500 individuals and organisations responded to the BBC’s first Public Value Test. The Trust has approved a seven-day catch up television service over the internet. Once downloaded the user will be able to keep their recordings for up to 30 days. There will also be a seven-day catch-up TV service over cable; the simulcasting of the BBC’s linear channels over the Internet and Non-DRM (digital rights management) audio downloads over the Internet (known to us all as podcasting). But conditions attached to the Series Stacking feature have been changed. The Trust has imposed a 15% annual quota on programmes that can feature Series Stacking and has issued editorial guidelines.
NDS looks to mobile devices
Speaking after the release of favourable results for yet another quarter, NDS chairman and chief executive Dr Abe Peled has emphasised the growing importance of PCs, portable media players and other portable devices to its product portfolio. He has also highlighted an emphasis on emerging markets. “NDS is focused on three distinct markets: our current customers in developed markets where the introduction of new technologies is a key driver; new customers in developing markets where low cost with attractive functionality is key to rapid penetration,” he said. NDS reported a 20% increase in third quarter revenues, which rose to 20% to $178 million (€131 million), and nine-month revenues up 14% to $508 million. Operating income was up by 1% to $36 million and the nine-month operating income by 12% to $118 million.
Sky highs surprise City
BSkyB has surprised the City by reporting new customer additions of 340,000, but a rise in churn to 13.7% from 11.9% just three months ago meant that net customer growth was restricted to 51,000 – still an increase of 28% year-on-year to 8.492 million. Earlier this week, Lehman Brothers which had earlier estimated a loss of 14.2% of subscribers reduced its forecasts to 13.5%. The satisfaction levels of those that remain is hard to question; third quarter growth for Sky+ of 199,000 has taken the digital video recorder into 2.167 million households, its 25% penetration target reached three years ahead of schedule. HD subscribers grew by 60,000 on the quarter to reach 244,000 within 10 months. Broadband subscribers doubled to 553,000 with gross bookings of 669,000 as of April 29, 2007. Sky Talk customers have increased by 83% to 408,000. The DTH platform is stressing its See, Speak, Surf triple play concept.
Spanish Ono hikes fees
Leading Spanish cable operator Ono has announced a series of price rises for its customers. Due to come into effect at the beginning of next month, they will see the cost of some of its packages, though especially those including pay-TV services, increase by up to 50%. Ono, which lists Multitel (21%), CCMP, Providence Equity and Thomas H. Lee Company (15.2% each) as its main shareholders, began this year with 1.802 million residential cable subscribers.
TV news at 13.05.2007
BT reveals its Vision to the public
BT has unveiled its ‘TV on your terms’ advertising campaign as its launches its BT Vision IPTV product to the general public. A national TV advertising campaign will begin on Saturday evening during ITV’s popular Grease is the Word talent contest to be supported by print and online ads. The product will be available in the, arguably upscale, retailer John Lewis and from the summer the electrical specialist Comet. BT has placed a nominal price of £199 (€292) on the Philips manufactured DTT/IPTV hybrid known as the V-box, which will be free to BT Broadband customers, where speeds greater than 2 Mbps can be guaranteed. BT is making the inevitable comparisons with rival services, such as the 80-hour storage capability of the V-box, which unlike Sky+ carries no ongoing charge. BT Vision will be installed by BT engineers for an installation fee of £60 and a connection fee of £30. A self-install version will be introduced later in the year.
Austrian cable nets go digital
Two of Austria’s 25 cable operators have ordered digital set-top boxes (DVB-C); between the two of them, Kabelsignal (of Niederösterreich) and Liwest (of Oberösterreich) 30,000 sets have been ordered. Other operators who are likely to join are Bnet (Burgenland) Salzburg AG and Telesystem Tirol. The STBs are part of the special digitalisation programme with a €40 subsidy for the consumer. In total there are 66,666 subsidised cable tuners available. Only interactive boxes with MHP capabilities are eligible for the subsidy. The two operators also will offer an HD box. Austria’s largest cable operator UPC Telekabel is not taking part in the programme, as the company does not sell its set-top boxes, but rents them out. They also use OpenTV rather than MHP as middleware.
UPC posts mixed results
UPC Broadband has posted a mixed set of results for Q1 2007, with growth in broadband Internet access and telephony strong in most markets but digital TV and DTH operations performing more modestly. In the DTH sector, where UPC Direct faces growing competition from the Romanian-owned platform Digi TV, the number of subscribers in both Hungary (163,700) and the Czech Republic (133,400) was lower than three months earlier. Growth in the take-up of both Internet access and telephony was particularly pronounced in The Netherlands and Poland, which saw the respective subscriber totals rise by 19,500 and 29,400 (Internet) and 17,700 and 19,500 (telephony) in the first quarter. Although the company’s Dutch operation secured only 9,000 new digital TV subscribers in Q1, its Swiss operation added 16,900. UPC Broadband’s revenues in Europe as a whole amounted to $931.9 million (€689.1 million) in Q1 2007, or 24.7% more than in the corresponding period in 2006.
Court to decide in Telenet/Interkabel dispute
Belgian cable operator Telenet has ceased talks with the Interkabel consortium over the introduction of interactive digital television services and has begun legal proceedings. Interkabel has announced the launch of an interactive version of its digital In-Di platform, which Telenet claims is illegal. Under a contract between the two operators Telenet has the exclusive rights to offer point-to-point services on the four Interkabel networks, Integan, Interelektra, PBE and WVEM. Interkabel is of the opinion it is free to launch any television service it wants as this is not covered by the contract, Telenet claims interactivity and on-demand services are part of the agreement. After Interkabel launched its In-Di digital platform there was no problem, but the two companies have been talking to each other ever since about the possible introduction of the Telenet iDTV services over the Interkabel networks.
Tenants ill-prepared for switchover
Digital UK is calling for action from landlords and tenants after research commissioned by the switchover organisation found that half of tenants in the UK did not know what to do once analogue screens go dark. The joint research project found that only 43% of private tenants, and 54% of council tenants understand what needs to be done in order to continue receiving television after the switchover. This compares with the national average of 64%. Three quarters of tenants already have digital TV on their primary TV sets – just about in line with the national average – but only one third of secondary sets have been converted. Digital UK is launching an advertising and leafleting campaign to advise landlords and tenants in the first four areas to be switched over.
Sky loss reduces Virgin customers adds
First quarter customer additions at Virgin Media fell by 29,200 to 184,300 as the cable operator felt the first effects of the withdrawl of Sky’s basic channels from its network. The total customer base fell 46,900 on the quarter to 4.81 million. Virgin also pointed to increased competitor activity for the fall, but the impact on churn might have been greater, due in part to the need for customers to give one month’s notice to the operator on cancelling their service. The company has 3.390 million TV subscribers, including 3.081m digital subscribers, compared to 3.3539m at the end of 2006. The cable operator remains in the red with an operating loss of £305.7 million (€449.24m).
Mediaset PPV doubles revenues
Mediaset Premium, the Italian broadcaster’s terrestrial pay-TV service, has recorded a further 300,000 rechargeable cards sold since the beginning of the year. Around 2.2 million cards were also recharged with additional credits. Revenues doubled from €22.8 million in 2006 to €45.3 million in Q1 2007. The business is already profitable. The DTT service, including football from Serie A and Serie B, Grande Fratello (the Italian version of Big Brother), and a selection of premiering movies had sold over 1 million cards during 2006. Mediaset announced an operating profit of €964.9 million and a net profit of €124.5m. The Mediaset channels continue to be the market leaders among the 15-64 age group.
Danish TV2 to launch more channels
BBC News 24 is now a permanent fixture on the BBC website. A ‘Watch Live’ link has been added to the BBC News front page to access the new stream and the channel’s availability will also been mentioned in relevant news stories. Previously News 24 has only been available during major news events. The channel is being geographically restricted to the UK. International news channel BBC World is also available in a streamed version, but as a paid for service through providers including Real Networks. Other news and current affairs programmes are available internationally, but viewers see these at the relatively low bit rate of 34 kbps compared to the 225 kbps enjoyed in the UK. The addition of News 24 follows the approval by the BBC Trust of on demand plans that include the streaming of all the BBC’s TV and radio networks.
Swiss announce HD channel details
HD suisse is to be the name of the new nationwide Swiss HD channel to be launched before the end of the year by public broadcaster SRG SSR. For the time being there will be one channel serving all official four languages spoken in the country. HD suisse will broadcast programming from the four public broadcasters SF, TSR, TSI and TvR. In addition HD suisse will screen imported programming and live events such as UEFA Euro 2008. SRG SSR said its main priority will be to screen live events (sports, music, opera) in HD and will invest in OB equipment. Imported programming such as movies, documentaries and series will be offered in the original language as well as up to four of the languages spoken in the country. Dolby 5.1 surround sound will be also used. HD suisse will be available from the Hotbird satellite neighbourhood as well as cable networks across the count.
aonDigital TV adds seven
Austrian IPTV provider aonDigital TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Telekom Austria, has added seven channels to it bouquet. Comedy Central (German version), TV5Monde and RAI Due will be part of the basic tier, which costs €19.90 per month and now offers over 45 channels. NASN, The Golf Channel, National Geographic Channel and The Biography Channel will be part of an extended tier available at an additional €7.90 per month. At the moment aonDigital TV is only available in Vienna, but the coming months Telekom Austria plans to roll out the service in other major cities.
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