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Thread: News 17.04.2007

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    Default News 17.04.2007

    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.
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    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).
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    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.
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    Fresh delays for Walloon cable consolidation
    The sale of the eight Walloon cable operators to the Ale and Brutélé joint venture has run into problems after the two buyers suddenly lowered their initial bid of €475 million. It was this higher bid that excluded two other interested parties, Telenet and Altice. It is not known how much lower the new bid is. The current owners, a group of Walloon municipalities and Electrable, claimed the lower bid had stalled the negotiations. The operators involved are Inatel, Idea, Seditel, Igeho, Telelux, Interest/Interost, Simogel and AIEH with together some 634,000 homes connected. The new group would have over 1,237,000 subscribers. Press reports from Belgium also suggest talks between Flemish operator Telenet and the Interkabel group about possible cooperation on digital television have been resumed. Telenet already serves Interkabel customers with broadband access and telephony, but the Interkabel operators have their own digital TV service called in-Di.
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    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).
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    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.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    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.
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    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.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    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.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    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 Foręt). 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 ŕ 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.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    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.
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    Get selects Cisco network technology
    Norwegian cable operator Get has chosen Cisco’s IP Next Generation Network as part of an upgrade of its plant. Get, the former UPC Norway, has also become only the second cable operator in Europe to deploy the deploy Cisco EuroDOCSIS 3.0 downstream channel-bonding technology. Existing hardware within Get’s headends is being replaced with Cisco uBR10012 Universal Broadband Router Cable Modem Termination Systems (CMTS). The upgrade supports the delivery of broadband services to some 380,000 Norwegian homes.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    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.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    German WDR to begin HD pilot in 2007
    German regional public broadcaster WDR plans to test HD transmissions on satellite later this year, according to Rainer Hesels, responsible for television strategy and online, in an article in the in-house magazine WDR In-Print. “We already shoot most productions in HD,” he said, but he expects regular HD transmissions from the German public channels to start somewhere between 2010 and 2012. WDR, the largest and most cash-rich of all regional broadcasters, plans to transmit all their programmes in widescreen by the end of this year. The HD pilot will also take place this year as well as tests with mobile TV in the region of Cologne.
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    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.
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