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    Thor 5 arrives in Baikonur
    January 14, 2008

    By Julian Clover

    The first satellite in Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s replacement and expansion programme has arrived safely at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The NOK1.2 billion (€150 million) Thor 5 satellite is now undergoing the final preparations ahead of its launch on February 10.
    Cato Halsaa, CEO of Telenor Satellite Broadcasting said the new satellite would strengthen Telenor’s capacity in Central and Eastern Europe: “Telenor Satellite Broadcasting firmly believes that growth in HDTV and niche TV channels will continue to create an increased demand for satellite capacity and with our satellite replacement and expansion programme on track.” The satellite will join the existing Telenor fleet at the one degree West neighbourhood.

    Thor 5 was shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome having passed all the comprehensive tests at the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Washington. The spacecraft will now go through final preparations and testing before it is docked with the launch vehicle, a Proton Breeze M.


      TV news at 19.01.2008

      TV news at 19.01.2008(1)

      BBC Future Media looks to Joost
      BBC Future Media and Technology has announced the appointment of Dirk-Willem van Gulik as the division's Chief Technical Architect. He joins from the broadband video service Joost where he was chief technology officer, building the company’s platforms and technologies. Van Gulik will take up his post in February and will be responsible for the design and construction of the BBC's next generation back-end infrastructure to support all interactive services including, bbc.co.uk, BBCi and BBC Mobile. He is a recognised contributor to the Open Source foundation and has been a board member of the Apache Software Foundation since its inception.

      TV Cabo buys TV Tel
      Portuguese cablenet TV Cabo is to take control of smaller rival TV Tel. The PT Multimedia division has already taken a 20% stake and will purchase the remaining 80% from investment bank Caixa BI, providing it gets the necessary approval from the regulatory authorities. The purchase price, based on a multiple of 12 times the 2007 EBITDA, will be established once the transaction closes. TV Cabo will also purchase TVTel’s satellite and optical fibre infrastructure in Lisbon.

      Viasat joins HD club
      Modern Times Group has confirmed the launch of a HD television service on its Viasat Broadcasting satellite platform in the Nordic countries. The package will include two Viasat-branded proprietary channels – TV1000 HD and Viasat Sport HD. Testing has been underway at the SES-Sirius position (5 degrees East) since November. However, the launch comes two years after rival platform Canal Digital commenced its own HD service. Subscribers will pay an additional SEK/NOK/DKK 99 for the HD service and will also need an HD box. Two compatible boxes are being made available – a Viasat Plus HD PVR box from Pace, and a standard Viasat HD box made by Samsung. The boxes will support the 720p and 1080i formats and use NDS middleware and content security. The initial line up of HD channels comprises TV1000 HD and National Geographic Channel HD in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and Viasat Sport HD in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Viasat’s Danish subscribers will have access to TV2 Sport HD channel. There is no word of the Swedish public broadcaster SVT and its HD channel.

      Canal+ battles against grey subscribers
      According to French newspaper reports, Canal+ has taken measures against those dealers that supply Canal+ smart cards to viewers outside of France. The broadcaster will no longer supply smart cards without a receiver. Since December, all smart cards have been fixed to a particular satellite receiver and cannot be exchanged with another. Although no exact numbers are known, there are many ‘grey’ subscribers in Switzerland, the Benelux and Northern Africa. These people have an official Canal+ smart card for either the premium channels or the bouquet of thematic channels. Officially, this is not allowed, as Canal+ only owns the rights for subscribers residing in France. However, in Switzerland it is possible to subscribe to certain Canal+ channels via DSL and cable. The company is looking at a way to also accommodate DTH subscriptions in that country.

      Nuts TV makes satellite debut
      Turner Broadcasting System has confirmed the satellite launch of Nuts TV, its men’s entertainment channel, run in association with IPC Media. The channel, previously restricted to DTT, will extend its broadcast hours to commence at 19.00 and will run through until 03.00 the following morning. In addition to live programming, broadcast from a studio purpose-built by Enteraction TV, Nuts TV has established a multi-platform distribution strategy through partnerships with YouTube and Bebo. An extensive advertising campaign to promote the channel will break in mid-February with outdoor, press and in-pub activity.

      Dutch cabler to bid for live football rights
      Dutch cable company Zesko Holding has launched a surprise bid for the live Dutch football rights to the Eredivisie, the Dutch premier league competition. According to local newspaper reports, Zesko is prepared to pay up to €100 million for the right to broadcast all games live. Zesko is the largest Dutch cable company, with the Casema, @Home and Multikabel networks reaching over 3.4 million Dutch homes. Other potential bidders could include Dutch public broadcaster NOS and commercial channels RTL and SBS for the highlights, and KPN, Chellomedia (UPC) and Tele2 for the live rights. During the past few weeks, all these parties have said they would probably not match prices paid three years ago, but this might just have been a ritual dance in preparation for negotiations. The tender for coverage of Dutch football closes this Thursday.

      Rogaland begins Norway digital countdown
      The Norwegian region of Rogaland is now less than 50 days away from analogue switch off. The move is scheduled to take place at 11.30 on March 4 with 98% of the 30,000 households in the region expected to be able to receive the signal with the aid of a decoder. The switchover process is being masterminded by NTV, the company owned jointly by NRK, TV 2 and Telenor Broadcast Holding. Public channels NRK1, NRK2 and NRK3/NRK Super will be transmitted free-to-air with TV2, local television and an open access channel available free though on the Riks TV smart card.

      KPN reaches 500,000 digital homes
      The Dutch incumbent telecom operator KPN has said it has now has 500,000 digital homes. The figure is the combined total of the two TV products the company offers, the DTT service Digitenne and the IPTV service KPN Interactieve TV. On September 30, KPN had 414,000 digital homes, of which the majority were believed to be Digitenne. The IPTV service has around 10,000 subscribers. KPN now aims for one million homes, said Jacob Middeldorp, director TV, Content and Broadcast Services.

      Sardinia reaches switchover agreement
      The Italian communications authority has confirmed a deal has been reached between TV operators in the region of Sardinia on how digital switchover should be managed. There had been fears that the regulator would have to step in to force an agreement. Sardinia is the first of the 20 Italian regions that will make the switch to digital only broadcasts. 2012 has been set as the date by when the process is due to be completed. Commenting on the agreement authority president Corrado Calabro said the result was important for the entire country because it is the first time an agreement had been reached between all the stakeholders. An additional frequency will allow room for a fourth broadcaster with coverage of 80% of the region.

      Belgacom complains about Telenet/Interkabel deal
      Belgian incumbent telecom operator Belgacom has filed a complaint with the court of first instance in Antwerp about the acquisition of the Interkabel TV activities by Telenet. The company claims that the sale is illegal, because the cable networks making up the Interkabel consortium are owned by a number of municipalities. Under European law, as public companies they should have started an open tender rather than make a deal between closed doors. The court will start proceedings in March. Until that date, Telenet and Interkabel are not able to integrate the TV activities of the two companies.

      Mobile 3.0 wins German licence, opts for DVB-H
      Mobile 3.0, a joint venture between Mobiles Fernsehen Deutschland (MFD) and Neva Media, has won the nationwide mobile TV licence in Germany and chosen the DVB-H standard to roll out its service. A decision has been taken by the joined directors of the state media authorities and has to be approved by all the regional authorities. The consortium hopes to start broadcasting in time for the Euro 2008 football championship. Introduction of the new service will be built around the live mobile TV coverage of the games. The network will be built by T-Systems Media & Broadcast. Mobile 3.0 brings together both the public and the main commercial broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, RTL, Vox, Sat.1, Pro Sieben, N-TV and N24. It will also include radio stations Digital 5, Big Buddy and Kick FM, as well as additional audio services.

      1 million visits to BBC iPlayer
      One million visitors have headed to the BBC iPlayer website since the on demand service officially launched on Christmas Day. Subsequently, over 3.5 million programmes have been streamed or downloaded since the launch, an average of a quarter of a million programmes per day, with viewers staying with each streamed programme for an average of 25 minutes. Significantly, the number of viewers choosing to stream content is currently outnumbering downloads by a factor of eight to one. Around 250 programmes from the past seven days’ schedule are available on the site.

      Cogeco defends Cabovisão results
      Canadian cable operator Cogeco has been defending itself after growth slowed at its Portuguese subsidiary. Cogeco bought into Cabovisão in 2006, but after initial growth has seen revenues decrease after Portugal Telecom’s newly spun-off PT Multimedia reduced prices. “Portugal, as you know, was acquired because it’s a good source of future growth that has low basic penetration, low high-speed Internet penetration, and is a reservoir of growth for the future of this company,” Louis Audet, chief executive officer of Cogeco Cable, told an analysts call. He said the company was now adjusting to having more than one competitor in the marketplace. Cabovisão grew its basic cable service by 4,933 subscribers in the first financial quarter to November 30, 2007. This compares to additions 7,253 customers as at August 31, 2007. A total of 707,355 revenue generating units compared to 697,157 in the previous quarter. JCVOD.


        TV news at 19.01.2008_Central & East Europe(2)

        TV news at 19.01.2008_Central & East Europe(2)

        RCS/RDS secures funding
        The Romanian company RCS/RDS has received a $500 million (€340.3 million) loan from a consortium led by Citibank and ING, according to a local report. The funding, which was first announced late last year, will be used to both service existing loans and finance a 3G network in Romania. RCS/RDS is the second largest cable operator in Romania and also operates the DTH platform Digi TV both in its home market and five other CEE countries. It cancelled a planned IPO in London late last year following lack of interest, with prospective investors being surprised that the company planned to focus its efforts on the 3G network rather than expand Digi TV to more foreign markets.

        Hungarian Internet take-up rises
        The number of cable Internet homes served by the four leading operators in Hungary – UPC, T-Kábel, Fibernet and DIGI – grew by 2.8% to 400,000 in November 2007, according to data produced by the country’s National Communications Authority (NHH). At the same time, the number of broadband ADSL homes rose by 1.2% to 730,000. In the latter case, the figure was compiled from data for the four telcos (Magyar Telekom, Invitel, Hungarotel and Monortel) with monopoly status in some parts of Hungary, along with that for the four leading alternative carriers (eTel, GTS Datanet, PanTel and Tele2).

        UPC eyes Polish digital launch
        UPC Poland’s long-awaited digital cable service will finally make its debut in May this year. Local reports indicate that it will offer an EPG, HD channels, PVR and (after a few months) VOD and be initially available in Warsaw, before being rolled out to other large cities later in the year. UPC has also just re-branded its Internet access service UPC Live and introduced three new packages, one of which – at 20Mbps – is the fastest in Poland offered to individual clients. UPC is the largest cable operator in Poland in the terms of subscriber numbers, ahead of Vectra, Multimedia Polska and Aster.

        Cyfrowy Polsat floatation nears
        The Polish DTH platform Cyfrowy Polsat is likely to be floated in both Warsaw and London in the first quarter of this year. Local reports indicate that the sale of around 25% in the company, which ended last year with around 2 million subscribers, could net up to PLN1.5 billion (€417.6 million). Following the collapse of the Axel Springer deal, an IPO at Polsat itself looks increasingly likely. According to its owner Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, it could see up to 40% off its shares sold, earning – in the view of local sources – up to PLN3.2 billion.

        Poverkhnost starts DTH trial
        The Ukrainian company Poverkhnost is reported to have begun a DVB-S2/MPEG-4 trial employing Eutelsat W4 at 36 degrees East. It is using ****** 2 conditional access to deliver the channels Studio 1+1, ICT, Novy Kanal, STB, TRK Ukraina, M1 and M2 Estrada. Poverkhnost is eventually expected to launch a DTH platform offering 50 SD and 2-3 HD channels. Satellite platforms are also planned by Viasat Ukraine, in which Sweden’s MTG has a 50% stake, and DataGroup.

        Bulgaria prepares for digitalisation
        Bulgaria could start awarding digital licences in June or July this year. Speaking to the local press, Veselin Bozhkov, the head of the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), said that government would be making a decision on a digitalisation plan within a month, after which seven cities, including Burgas, Plovdiv, Varna and the capital, Sofia, could be each be awarded three licences on a competitive basis. Analogue switch off in Bulgaria is expected to take place in 2012.

        New channel for Nova TV
        The Bulgarian national commercial broadcaster Nova TV has announced plans to launch a new cable and satellite channel this March or April. According to local sources, the service will be known as Nova+ and offer reality-type programming obtained from such companies as Endemol, Universal and Warner Bros. Nova TV, which is backed by Greece’s Antenna Group, has said it may also acquire a second channel later this year. Nova TV will be licensed to operate a total of three digital TV services following analogue switch-off.

        Polsat 24 launch draws nearer
        The Polish news channel Polsat 24 is expected to make its debut this May, according to a local report. However, the service, which will cost in the region of PLN150-250 million (€42.2-70.4 million) to set up, still has to receive a licence from the country’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT). Polsat operates a news/business channel named TV Biznes, and the news channel market is already served by TVP’s TV Info, ITI Group’s TVN 24 and Superstacja, a tabloid-style service 50% owned by STER, a company belonging to Polsat’s Zygmunt Solorz-Zak.

        LNT enjoys Latvian lead
        Data produced by TNS Latvia shows that the national commercial station LNT was the most TV watched service in December 2007, claiming an audience share of 18.3%. It was just ahead of TV3 (17.1%), with the Russian channel PBK (12.0%) and public broadcaster’s first channel LTV1 (10.8%) occupying the next two spots. Both LNT’s and PBK’s shares were identically to those in November, while both TV3 (-1.1%) and LTV1 (-0.2%) lost viewers.

        Comstar sub figures grow
        Comstar-UTS had 695,000 broadband Internet subscribers in Moscow at the end of Q4 2007, or 198,000 more than three months earlier. At the same time, it had 119,400 pay-TV subscribers, a year-on-year increase of 36,100. According to Sergey Pridantsev, the company’s president and CEO, it plans to upgrade the last mile and launch unique HDTV services in Moscow this year, and at the same time increase its regional subscriber base, which already stood at 40,000 at the end of 2007.


          TV news at 26.01.2008(1)

          TV news at 26.01.2008(1)

          Best ever subscriber figures for Film1/Sport1
          With over 330,000 subscribers, the Dutch premium channels Film1 and Sport1 are claiming “the best ever subscriber figures” in the history of Dutch pay television. Last Friday, Chellomedia said this number had been reached. Traditionally, premium television channels have proved to be a very difficult proposition on the Dutch market. FilmNet, SuperSport and Canal+ never managed to gain more than 300,000 subscribers, but now Chellomedia said it counts over 330,000 subs for the two channels combined. Reasons for the success could be that pricing is more attractive and that no separate decoder is needed for reception of the channel – any approved digital cable or satellite tuner suffices. The channels are available on most cable networks in the country, on the Canal Digitaal DTH platform.

          TV5 partners rebel against France
          The news that French president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to consolidate all French foreign broadcasting under the France Monde name instead of TV5 Monde has not gone down well with its partner broadcasters from Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec. Sarkozy has proposed to bring together TV5 Monde, France 24 and Radio France Internationale (RFI) under one single umbrella. “This will make TV5 an affiliate of France,” according to Abdou Diouf, president of the l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). France pays 84% of the TV5 Monde budget; the remainder is contributed by the other member broadcasters, RTBF from Belgium TSR from Switzerland, Radio-Canada and Télé-Québec. The others have now formally protested against the plan.

          MTV no longer in state of Flux
          MTV is to drop its User Generated Content channel MTV Flux from Sky Digital after just 15 months on-air and replace it with a timeshifted version of flagship channel MTV One. It’s the second time the launch of a viewer playlist channel has failed for the network. In the mid 1990s, well before the term user generated content became common currency, MTV tried a web-based channel where viewers selected their own playlists. The MTV Flux brand will continue in the form of its online community and the concept will be integrated into the schedules of MTV’s other music channels MTV2, Base, Hits and Dance in the form of a 30-minute show. MTV One Plus 1 is scheduled to commence early next month.

          CanalSat to launch bouquet for Swiss market
          CanalSat is set to launch a special bouquet of channels for the Swiss DTH market before the end of June. The move follows a clampdown on smart cards that travel to Switzerland. In the past few months the French satellite operator has stopped supplying smart cards to dealers who the company believed were supplying them to people residing in Switzerland. Since CanalSat only owns the DTH rights for France, it took measures against this 'grey' market. In order to satisfy the demand for more French language programming in Switzerland, the company now plans a dedicated DTH offer for the country. The line-up has to be announced, but will include all the digital terrestrial channels, the seven CinemaCinema channels, the five Planete channels and the HD versions of both Canal+ and CinemaCinema.

          Orange confirms satellite plans
          French telecom operator Orange, part of incumbent France Telecom, has confirmed press reports that the company is in talks with satellite operators to launch their own DTH service. “It is not our ambition to clash head-to-head with Canal+,” said a spokesperson, “We are in constant talks with them.” The move into DTH is to “complement our triple play offer across our territory.” DTH will serve those areas currently not reached by the Orange IPTV service over DSL. The former MaLigne has been a key driver of Canal’s premium channels in the metropolitan areas where the installation of a satellite dish is often prohibitive. Orange is believed to have made a bid for primetime rights to top-flight French football, again in competition with Canal, though the France Telecom company has declined to say which packages it is bidding for.

          Gemstar files Virgin Media patent suit
          Gemstar has filed a claim at the High Court in London alleging the breach of three of its European patents by Virgin Media. In a statement, Gemstar-TV Guide said the patents referred to interactive programme guides and for handling recordings, suggesting the dispute centres around the V+ personal video recorder. “We have worked diligently to license Virgin Media for their distribution of various set-top boxes that contain IPGs covered by our patents, but negotiations did not lead to a resolution, said Samir Armaly, executive vice president, intellectual property and licensing, Gemstar-TV Guide. “The substantial value of our European patent portfolio has been recognised by leading service providers as well as leading consumer electronics manufacturers in the UK and throughout Europe.” He said that although the company would have preferred to reach a commercial solution it ultimately had a responsibility to its shareholders.

          SRM increases Virgin stake
          SRM Global Master Fund LP has once more increased its holding in Virgin Media, it has emerged. The Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows the hedge fund now holds a stake in Virgin Media of 9.1%. In December SRM Global Master Fund held 7.1%. The Monaco-based fund has also been building a stake in the troubled UK mortgage bank Northern Rock. Virgin Media’s largest shareholder Sir Richard Branson has been looking to purchase the Rock, which is currently being supported by the government after it became Britain’s most high profile casualty of the credit crunch.

          French DTT increases reach
          With the build-up of the network, French DTT is reaching more and more households. According to recent research, 22% of the population now watches digital terrestrial. The platform is closing in on DTH, with 26% still the most widely used platform. Twelve per cent of all French homes are connected to cable, 7% to IPTV and the remainder still relies on analogue. Two per cent say they have access to mobile TV and 40% to multiple platforms. The survey was carried out by Crédoc on behalf of Arcep and CTGI.

          France: 36 mobile TV proposals submitted
          The French media authority CSA has received 36 different proposals for mobile TV services, both from established broadcasters and newcomers. There will be room for 13 channels for the TMP service, which is due to start in the second half of this year. Among the applicants are Canal+ with three channels, Canal+, i-Tele (news) and Infosport; TF1 with their main channel, the news channel LCI and Eurosport; M6 with M6, Teva and W9, Lagardere with no less than six channels, Elle TMP, Canal JMP, Gulli, Virgin 17, MTP1 and MCM Top; Nextradio proposes BFM, TBFM and RMC Sport. Newcomers include mobile operator Orange with two dedicated mobile channels, O’TV and Orange Sport, and the newspapers Les Echoes and L’Equipe join horse racing channel Equida with E3TV. Euronews is going for either a 24 hour schedule or a part-time licence. Original newspaper reports spoke of 32 applicants, but the CSA received four more by mail bringing the total to 36. The licences will be issued for a period of 10 years with the possibility to extend them for a further five.

          Telenet claims 400,000 digital landmark
          Belgian cable operator Telenet said it has reached 400,000 digital homes, making it the biggest digital operator in the country. One in four of all analogue Telenet subscribers now has digital. The company is currently active in two thirds of the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, but hopes to add the other one third after consolidating the acquisition of the TV activities of the Interkabel networks. At the moment, Belgacom TV is the second largest digital platform in the country with over 250,000 subscribers nationwide. The DTH platform TV Vlaanderen has over 50,000 homes.

          Top Up TV expands PVR capacity
          Top Up TV is launching a new version of its digital video recorder. The DTT pay service now has a 250GB unit delivering up to 180 hours of recording space. It joins the existing 160GB product that provides 120 hours of recording space. UK high street ‘catalogue’ retailer Argos is pricing the new product at £129.99 with a one-month trial of Setanta Sports included in an alternative £149.99 package. Subscribers are able to manage which of Top Up TV’s selection of downloaded ‘channels’ they receive content from. Should a subscriber choose to receive content from each of them, they would have 42 hours-worth of capacity free.

          BBC Three to start web simulcast
          BBC Three is to embark on a new multiplatform strategy as part of its 2008 winter/spring season. Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC Three, said the channel was aiming to become Britain’s most ambitious multi-platform network – combining television and the web into a single, integrated offering. “At BBC Three we should be known for pioneering risk, and be obsessed with all things new – new talent, new programmes, and a new relationship between television and the internet,” he said. From February all programmes will be simulcast on the web and there will be regular slots for user generated content in primetime. Cohen revealed a slate of new drama and entertainment including the singer Lily Allen, who will host a new show based around social networking, and premieres of US series Greek and the second series of Heroes.


            TV news at 26.01.2008_Central & East Europe(2)

            TV news at 26.01.2008_Central & East Europe(2)

            Dolce hits 400,000 sub total
            The Romanian DTH platform Dolce ended 2007 with almost 400,000 subscribers, according to Yorgos Ioannidis, the CEO of its operator, Romtelecom. Speaking to the local press, he added that it began 2007 with a market share of between 0-1% and ended with one of almost 20%. He also said that Romtelecom plans to almost double its broadband and TV subscriber total this year.

            Intact secures channel licences
            Romania’s Intact Media Group has been awarded licences for three new channels from the National Audiovisual Council (CNA). The first, known as Arena TV Sport, will offer mostly sports info and entertainment, with in-house productions accounting for 70% of total airtime. The second, Top TV, will be a music channel and allocate 60% of its airtime to in-house productions, while in the third, Business TV, the total will be 90%. The Intact Media Group, which I s owned by the Voiculescu family, already includes five TV stations in its media portfolio. It expects to invest around €100 million in the three new services, all of which will make their debuts later this year.

            More channels for UPC Direct
            The DTH platform UPC Direct plans to add NASN and HBO Comedy to its channel line-up by the middle of February, according to a report in the Czech press. In the Czech Republic, it also plans to extend a pre-payment method for the reception of its programme package Rodina first introduced in the summer of last year. Subscribers who took up the offer at that time will be able to extend the period by an additional six or 12 months for CZK459 (€13.70) a month.

            ITV Partner sale confirmed
            The Bulgarian MSO Eurocom Cable has been given the go-ahead to buy Interactive Technologies, the operator of ITV Partner, one of the country’s two DTH platforms. News of the proposed deal, the value of which is unknown, first emerged late last year when Eurocom Cable announced it was seeking permission from the Commission for the Protection of Competitionto take over Interactive Technologies. ITV Partner was launched in late 2004 and uses Eutelsat W2 at 16 degrees to offer 44 TV channels, seven radio stations and such additional services as PPV. It competes with the DTH platform Bulsatcom. Eurocom Cable is owned by Hungary’s third largest operator FiberNet, itself back by Warburg Pincus.

            Cyfrowy Polsat delays IPO
            The Polish DTH platform Cyfrowy Polsat has delayed its IPO due to the current instability on the world’s markets. Confirming the move, its president Dominik Libicki was nevertheless unable to provide a new date. The IPO, which was given the official go-ahead last week, was expected to earn the platform up to PLN1.5 billion (€416.1 million). Cyfrowy Polsat is the market leader in Poland’s DTH sector, claiming over 2 million subscribers, or double the number of Cyfra+.

            Ukraine gears up for DTT
            Details are emerging of plans to launch a DTT service in Ukraine. According to local sources, it has already been decided that the country will employ both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compression on three and two national multiplexes respectively. A further two will be allocated to HD and one to DVB-H services. Although the process of channel allocation has already begun, it is widely felt that the planned May 2009 launch date for the service is unrealistic.

            Setback for Polish broadcast law proposals
            Proposed amendments to Poland’s broadcast legislation have reportedly been passed to the parliamentary commissions on culture and infrastructure for further work. This follows their rejection in the first reading in the Polish parliament (Sejm). The controversial amendments, which have put forward by the ruling PO (Civic Platform) party, would see changes to the way senior management is appointed at TVP, ostensibly to de-politicise the public broadcaster, and greatly limit the powers of the National Broadcasting Council (KKRiT).

            Hungarian DTT tender date
            Hungary’s National Communications Authority (NHH) has announced that it will hold a tender for a national DTT licence this March. In it, the regulator will offer a total of five multiplexes, three of which will be available for TV and DVB-H services and two following analogue switch off, which is due to take place on June 30, 2011. Bidders for the DT licences will be required to pay a fee of at least HUF300 million (€1.16 million) and then contribute at least 3% of their annual revenue should they be successful and go on to launch services. The tender was initially expected to be held last October but was held up after failing to receive parliamentary approval. DTT services could be up and running in the country by the end of the year.

            Vectra digital rollout continues
            The Polish cable operator Vectra has introduced its digital TV service to the city of Lomza. At the same time, it has increased the number of digital channels it offers by 26 to 100. Vectra is the second largest MSO in Poland after UPC and announced earlier this month that it has over 85,000 digital TV and 140,000 broadband Internet subscribers. With the addition of Lomza, it now offers digital TV services in 18 cities throughout Poland.

            Southern comfort for Comstar
            Comstar-UTS has announced that it now has 100,000 subscribers for its DNT-TV branded pay-TV service in southern Russia. DNT-TV made its debut in November 2005 and is currently available in – amongst others – Azov, Belaya, Shakhty and Rostov-on-Don. Initially offering 50 mostly Russian language satellite channels and leading FTA services, it introduced a premium digital package in Rostov-on-Don last August. Its current package will shortly be increased from 80 to 100 channels and supplemented by high-speed Internet access. Comstar-UTS will also give a debut to an IPTV service in the region in Q1 this year. Separately, Comstar-UTS has announced that it has signed an agreement with Cisco for the delivery of equipment to build an NGN multi-service network in Ukraine. The network is expected to have over 125,000 subscribers in Odessa and the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, by 2011.


              TV news at 15.02.2008(1)

              TV news at 15.02.2008(1)

              Card hack reduces Premiere sales
              Premiere has given further details of the hack on its smart card security and has admitted the breach has impacted on its post-Christmas sales. The pay-TV platform said a security gap in the Nagravision conditional access system had been exploited by criminal hackers using digital receivers manufactured overseas.

              Premiere CEO Michael Börnicke said that despite the problems the company remained well placed. “Premiere cannot exclude the possibility that business will be affected by the gap in the security system. In view of this situation, it is not possible to forecast results for the current year. Premiere will thus not be giving a prognosis for the fiscal year 2008 at the present time.”

              Premiere revealed 2007 financial broadly in line with expectations. It recorded an EBITDA up from €47.9 million in 2006 to €83.4m in 2007. The simultaneously published Q4 results recorded an EBITDA of €13.4 million and revenues of €283.6m.

              Previously announced year-end subscriber numbers were confirmed at 4,278,671. These include 3,652 million direct subscribers and a further 628,000 through the Arena and Unitymedia platforms. The company also announced 170,000 subscribers to it’s new Premiere Star bouquet.

              Lagardere suspends MCM sale
              The French Lagardere group has suspended the sale of its bouquet of MCM music channels, according to French press reports. The reason is the ongoing talks with CanalSat about conditions of carriage. The broadcaster’s main revenue stream comes from this carriage deal and these should be resolved before a sale of the music division can take place.

              Disney takes interest in Spanish DTT
              The Walt Disney company has taken an 20% interest in the Spanish DTT broadcaster Net TV for €27 million. The free-to-air broadcaster holds one of the six nationwide DTT licences and is controlled by the Vocento group, which holds 55%. The Intereconomia group owns the remaining 25% . “We believe DTT is the technology of the future and will reach 100% of the Spanish population,” said Disney’s John Hardie, VP EMEA. Disney will contribute its expertise in launching channels as well as a vast library of movies and programmes to the venture. Disney’s efforts will be concentrated on creating one of the channels that is part of the Net TV licence.

              2.23 million new satellite receivers in Germany
              Germans have bought 2.23 million new digital satellite receivers during the year 2007, according to figures from the GfK research institute. This represents an increase of 230,000 sets compared with the previous year. Of these sets, 1.2 million, or slightly more than half of the total sold, were free-to-air receivers. 46% of all digital receivers sold were equipped with Common Interface rather than embedded encryption. The market share of DVB-S receivers is about 66% of the total market of all digital receivers in retail, the remainder is shared between cable and DTT tuners.

              CSA publishes call for HD pay-TV on DTT
              French media authority CSA has published its call for applicants for the planned HD DTT services in the country. There will be room for three HD pay-TV channels. Canal+ has already obtained a licence and will launch its HD programming in the second quarter. All applications have to be submitted by March 28, 2008 at 5pm CET. The authority requires a minimum of 25% native HD programming during the first year, growing to 30% in 2009. The move by the CSA shows that the authority is serious about HD on DTT, with five licences already issued (apart from Canal, TF1, M6, France 2 and Arte), bringing the total to eight terrestrial HD channels.

              Eutelsat raises 2007-2008 outlook

              Eutelsat Communications has increased net income by 18.5% and added 3.4% to its revenues as the Paris-based satellite operator reported its first half results ending December 31, 2007. The company reported an EBITDA of €349.2 million, an increase of 5.9%, on revenues of €429.4m.

              Chairman and CEO Giuliano Berretta highlighted the “remarkable success” of the operator’s new video neighbourhood at 9 degrees East and announced plans to expand the 7 degrees East neighbourhood that has been the subject of interference claims with SES-Sirius. “This commercial success and the very favourable outlook for our markets lead us to revise upward our financial objectives for the current fiscal year,” he said. “We have also decided to expand our investment programme with the addition of a seventh satellite to our launch programme to the end of 2010. The W3B satellite is aimed at consolidating the success of our 7 degrees East neighbourhood, which already broadcasts 200 channels.”

              The new satellite will be co-positioned with W3A and increase the available capacity at the neighbourhood by close to 50% as well as providing back-up for W3A.

              ProSiebenSat.1 ends HD simulcasts

              The German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has decided to stop simulcasting the HD versions of its two main channels, ProSieben and Sat.1 on Astra. Last December there were already rumours the broadcaster would stop its HD transmissions early in the year, but now they have sent out a letter to cable operators who take the HD feed, they will stop on February 15.

              The reason for the termination of the HD broadcasts is the lack of suitable receivers in the market; only about 150,000 German homes are capable of receiving HD signals. The additional costs and the inability to increase advertising revenues from HD make it unattractive for the broadcaster to continue to broadcast in HD. With the demise of the two free-to-air channels, only Anixe HD remains as the sole FTA broadcaster on the German market.

              Premiere has two pay-TV HD channels, the combined movie/sports service and Discovery HD. At year end 2007 there were about 110,000 HD subscribers.

              250,000 mobile TV subscribers for Canal+

              The French Canal+ Group said it has now reached 250,000 subscribers for its mobile TV service on the SFR and Bouygues Telecom networks using 3G, 3G+ and EDGE unicast technology. The service was launched in the spring of 2005 with the Canalsat bouquet, followed later that year by Canal+ premium content. The operator said that the unlimited access in a bundle on SFR is particularly successful. The Canal+ premium offer consists of mobile versions of the various series on the channel, and content across the four thematic mobile channels Humor, Cine/Serie, Sport/Info and Charme (erotic). The Canalsat Mobile bouquet offers over 50 channels, of which 20 are “exclusive” to the platform.

              Viasat grows Nordic FTA sales

              Viasat Broadcasting has announced an increase in net sales of 17% year-on-year to SEK2,571 million in the fourth quarter to following a free-to-air sales growth of 14% in the Scandinavian market. Viasat, which runs the popular TV3 brand, is benefiting from the digital switchover process that has now completed in both its base Sweden and neighbouring Denmark.

              The Nordic pay-TV businesses also performed well, generating net sales of SEK3,613 million, an increase of 14% over the 12-month period. As of December 31, 2007, premium subscribers stood at 760,000, including 714,000 who enjoy the DTH satellite service.

              The number of subscribers with the Viasat+ personal video recorder increased from 28,000 at the end of 2006 to 73,000 at the end of 2007. Multiroom subscriptions increased from 97,000 to 130,000.

              Growth in the company’s Eastern European interestsalso accelerated during the year to deliver 26% sales growth and contribute 42% of group operating profits. Viasat’s Baltic DTH business reported 164,000 subscribers with 26,426,000 receiving its mini-pay service.

              TVP opts for MPEG-4
              The Polish public broadcaster TVP is expected to switch its DTT trial in Warsaw entirely to MPEG-4 today, according to a local report. Up until now, it has employed MPEG-2 to distribute TVP1, TVP2, TVP Info and MPEG-4 for its thematic channels TVP Historia, TVP Kultura and TVP Sport. TVP already employs MPEG-4 in DTT trials in other parts of Poland.

              Ups and downs for Magyar Telekom
              Year-end figures published by the incumbent Hungarian telco Magyar Telekom show that it ended 2007 with 717,000 ADSL and cable broadband subscribers. However, it is not known how many customers the company’s IPTV service T-Home TV, which made its debut in Q4 2006, had after its first year of operation. Magyar Telekom saw its revenues grow by 0.8% to HUF676.7 billion (€2.58 billion) in 2007, though its EBITDA was down by 5.7% to HUF243.9 billion, with an EBITDA margin of 36%.

              VimpelCom closes in on GT
              The sale of Golden Telecom to VimpelCom, creating in the process what will be the leading telecom company in Russia, has moved a stage closer. Local reports indicate that Rostelcom has agreed to sell its 11% stake in Golden Telecom to VimpelCom, the country’s second largest mobile operator. With most other leading shareholders, including Alfa Group and Telenor, having already done so, VimpelCom now effectively has a controlling 63.3% stake in Golden Telecom. Earlier this week, VimpelCom secured a $3.5 billion (€2.4 billion) syndicated loan to help in the $4.3 billion acquisition.

              Russia ponders ‘farming’ channel
              Russia’s likely future president Dmitry Medvedev has called for the launch of a 24-hour channel aimed solely at people working in the agricultural sector. Although Russia already has some unique thematic channels – one named Zvezda is dedicated to patriotic issues – local reports indicate that his proposal has not been entirely well received. Yevgeny Kiselyov, a former head of NTV, has pointed out that such a service would find it hard to reach its likely audience, few of which receive cable or satellite delivered TV channels.


                TV news at 22.02.2008(1)

                TV news at 22.02.2008(1)

                Switzerland completes analogue switch-over
                February 22, 2008

                Next Monday SRG SSR idée suisse will complete analogue switch-over in Switzerland by terminating the analogue transmissions in the cantons of Wallis and Chablais Vaudois. In order to warn any remaining analogue viewers, all transmitters now broadcast a scroll bar announcing the imminent switch-off. All of Switzerland now has digital television. with the Western part offering reception of the two French language channels, TSR 1, TSR 2 and the Italian TSI 1. In the German part, people can receive the two German channels SF 1, SF zwei, as well as TSR 1 and TSI 1.

                HBO HD set for Poland
                February 21, 2008
                Trials of HBO HD are likely to get under way next month in Poland, with a full launch possible as soon as April 1. According to local reports, it is as yet not known who will carry the service, though the DTH platform is a likely candidate to be among the first. On the other hand, the rival service Cyfrowy Polsat cannot offer HBO HD for at least a few months due to a lack of suitable decoders. Reports indicate that HBO would like its clients to make the HD channel available for around PLN5-6 (€1.4-1.7) a month.

                TV Nova prepares for HD
                February 21, 2008
                The Czech national commercial broadcaster TV Nova has opted for a Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switcher supplied through TSL. It will be used at its new HD production and transmission facility as the CME-owned station gears up for the launch of services in the HD format.

                Multichannel wins at RTS news awards
                February 21, 2008
                Sky News, BBC News 24 and Al Jazeera all featured in the Royal Television Society Television Journalism Awards 2006/07 last night.
                Sky News won the News Channel of the Year Award for a record sixth time with the RTS judges commending the channel as “highly polished and outstanding in their coverage of domestic and human interest stories.”
                Sky News’ Asia Correspondent Alex picked up the Television Journalist of the Year award while Sky News.com, Martin Stanford’s nightly round up of news from the internet, received the innovation award.
                Al Jazeera English’s Hamish MacDonald was recognised as the Young Journalist of the Year. Kuala Lumpur-based MacDonald was commended by the judges for his confident and unique style, and was praised for his courageous coverage of the street protests in Malaysia.
                BBC Business Editor Robert Peston’s report on the banking crisis at the Northern Rock on BBC News 24 and BBC One was the Scoop of the Year. “This exclusive was not the result of some authorised leak but come from one journalist following a hunch that something was up and tracking down the truth through contacts and commitment,” said the judges.

                DVB-H to launch in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein
                February 22, 2008
                The regional media authorities have given the green light to the Mobile 3.0 consortium to start DVB-H broadcasts in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Transmissions should start on June 1, 2008, for a period of three years, just in time for the start of the Euro 2008 Football championship. The issuing of the licences follows the recommendation of the joint directors of all the regional media authorities. (See also our story in an earlier edition of BTN). The offer will consist of the main channels ARD, ZDF, RTL, Vox, Sat.1, Pro Sieben, N24 and N-TV, as well as local station Hamburg 1 and various radio stations.

                Austria reaches 400,000 DTT receivers
                February 22, 2008
                Digital terrestrial television is a success in Austria, with 400,000 receivers in the market at the end of last year. ”DTT has tuned into a competing platform,” according to Michael Wagenhofer, MD of Digitales Fernsehen Förder, GmbH, the company responsible for the switch-over. “About 70% of these people can now also receive three additional channels.” The figure applies only to dedicated set-top boxes, not to integrated digital TV sets, USB sticks and portable DTT devices. About one third of all STBs sold is capable of receiving MHP. Digital switch-over is in full swing, with more regions now becoming all digital.

                CBS offers free classic TV on multiple platforms
                February 22, 2008

                CBS Interactive announced that it will begin offering classic TV episodes from the CBS library online and across the CBS Audience Network. The initial lineup includes full-length episodes of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, MacGyver, Hawaii Five-O and Melrose Place, with more programs and clips to be added in the coming months. All content is ad-supported, free to the consumer and available (in the USA only) on the many partners of the CBS Audience Network, which include over 300 partners including the CBS local affiliates as well as Microsoft, CNET Networks, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, Netvibes, Sling Media and Veoh.

                Imagenio claims 500,000 IPTV subscribers in Spain
                February 22, 2008
                The Spanish incumbent telco Telefónica has said its IPTV platform Imagenio has now reached 500,000 subscribers across the country. The service is available in 565 cities with 10,000 inhabitants and more. Its offer includes a basic tier, “Imagenio Básico”, with 30 channels, and an extended tier “Imagenio Familiar” with 60 channels, as well as a special Football and pay-per-view package Palco.

                Telekom Slovenije sale on track
                February 21, 2008
                The upcoming privatisation of the incumbent Slovenian telco Telekom Slovenije is still on track, according to the commission overseeing the process. It has dismissed reports that one of the two remaining bidders – the Icelandic company Skipti – is withdrawing as untrue. Both Skipti and a consortium of Bain Capital, Axos Capital & BT Global Services have to make their final submissions by the end of this month.

                STV3 secures DTH distribution
                February 21, 2008
                The Slovak public broadcaster’s third channel STV3, which is due to make its debut on August 8, is reported to have secured carriage on the DTH platform Sky Link. However, it will not – at least initially – offer HD programming, broadcasting instead in both the 16:9 and 4:3 formats. The initial investment in the service, which will carry the Beijing Olympics, is expected to be in the region of SKK100 million (€ 3.02 million).


                  TV news at 11.03.2008(1)

                  TV news at 11.03.2008(1)

                  Hungarian broadband takes off
                  March 10, 2008
                  According to data produced by Hungary’s Central Statistics Office (KSH), there were 1.826m Internet subscriptions in the country at the end of 2007, or 37.4% more than 12 months earlier. The number using cable modems was up by 48.9% to nearly 558,000, while the ADSL total was 23.7% higher at 739,000. The 326 ISPs had a combined income of €112,6 million in 2007.

                  Get launches HD package
                  March 10, 2008
                  Norwegian cablenet Get is going HD with an initial package comprising Canal+ Film HD, Canal+ Sport HD, Discovery HD, Voom HD, Silver HD and Luxe HD.
                  Subscribers will access the channels through the new Get box HD PVR, costing NOK1,200 (€151) and including a 250 GB hard disk. The monthly fee will be NOK99 and the box is also compatible with Get’s new video on demand service. Later this summer Get plans to increase broadband speeds to 50 Mbps.
                  The former UPC Norway is now owned by the European investment company Candover.
                  Separately, Voom’s regional distribution partner has announced carriage deals with Lithuania’s Alpha Komunikacijos, Penki Kontinentai and Splius, as well as Estonia’s EST.

                  Tandberg seals Polish deal
                  March 10, 2008
                  The Polish MSO Multimedia Polska is to use Tandberg Television’s OpenStream digital services platform for it VOD services. Multimedia Polska, which is the third largest cable operator in Poland after UPC and Vectra, has already deployed Tandberg Television encoding for HD service that it introduced last year.

                  Czech ASO delay
                  March 10, 2008
                  The Czech Republic has put back its ASO date by just over a year to November 11, 2011. According to local reports, the move was announced in a final version of the switchover plan (TPP), approved by the country’s Telecom Office (CTU). Despite the delay – the date had previously been set for October 2010 – the Czech Republic has already begun the transition to digital broadcasting, with the first region to switch off its analogue signals being Domazlice in August last year.

                  Accedo signs Lithuanian agreement
                  March 10, 2008
                  Accedo Broadband is to supply a range of interactive gaming applications to the Interactive GALA IPTV service operated by the Lithuanian incumbent telco TEO LT. Interactive GALA, until recently known as Gala TV, made its debut in October 2006 and had 17,500 subscribers at the end of 2007. TEO LT has also just launched a DTT platform.

                  Entriq merges with Dayport
                  March 10, 2008
                  Digital media specialist Entriq is to merge with Dayport as the two companies bring together their respective services in the online video distribution market.
                  Guy Tennant, chief operating officer, Entriq said the company had found the perfect partner in DayPort, and described the solutions as complimentary. Cory Factor, CEO of DayPort will become CTO of the merged company, while other DayPort executives are assuming roles in the management team at Entriq.
                  The merged company will take the Entriq name, though the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
                  DayPort clients include Oprah’s Harpo Productions, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Sky News and CBS, while Entriq is known for its work with AETN and ProSiebenSat.1.

                  Viaccess snaps up Orca Interactive
                  March 10, 2008
                  Viaccess is to acquire Orca Interactive for an estimated $21.4 million (€13.9 million). Orca Interactive, which is based in Israel, is a leading provider of IPTV middleware and applications for broadband network operators and service providers. France Telecom-owned Viaccess is meanwhile a leading player in content protection, with 1.2 million active subscribers in the IPTV sector in Europe alone. The deal between the two parties still has to be approved by an extraordinary general meeting of Orca Interactive.


                    TV News_Central and East Europe at 03.03.2008

                    Rights triumph for Antena 1 and RCS/RDS
                    A consortium made up of Antena 1 and RCS/RDS has won the broadcasting rights for the Romanian premier (National) football league for the next three seasons. In doing so, it beat off rival bids from both Realitatea TV (which is part of the Realitatea-Catavencu Trust) and Turkish-backed Kanal D. According to the Intact Media Group, the owners of Antena 1, the winning bid amounted to €85 million (€102 million with taxes), just ahead of Realitatea TV’s €84.5 million and Kanal D’s €72.5 million. Intact Media Group’s interests include five TV stations, while RCS/RDS is the second largest cable operator in Romania and also owns the pan-regional DTH platform Digi TV.

                    HD boost for Czech Republic
                    HBO HD has made its debut on UPC’s cable network in the Czech Republic. It is currently being made available to subscribers who receive the Supreme package, which already includes HBO and Cinemax. Two further HD channels – National Geographic HD and Voom HD – will be added to UPC’s offer in the near future.

                    Poland set for mobile TV tender
                    Poland will open a tender for mobile TV licences in the middle of May, according to the country’s Office of Electronic Communications (UKE). Local reports say the regulator the regulator has earmarked 38 channels in the 470-790 MHz frequency range that will be used for DVB-H in 31 Polish towns and cities. The cost of lodging an application will be half of the PLN912,000 (€261,110) annual fee that will eventually be charged for each channel. The four Polish mobile companies Centertel, Polkomtel, PTC and P4 have already indicated that they may work together in launching a DVB-H service, the cost of which they estimated would be €100-200 million.

                    Hungarian broadband growth continues
                    The total number of fixed line broadband subscriptions in Hungary stood at 1.38 million in February, according to data published by the National Telecommunications Authority (NHH). ADSL accounted for 759,000 of the total, or 0.6% more than a month earlier, while cable rose by 3% to 620,000. The NHH added that the country’s four largest cable operators – UPC, T-Kábel, FiberNet and Digi – claimed just over 70% (440,000) of the cable total.

                    New landmark for Czech CS Link
                    The distribution company Gital has now sold over 200,000 smart cards for the reception of the pre-pay Czech DTH platform CS Link. Gital began selling the cards 22 months ago and currently does so with another company named Trade & Technology. CS Link is the most popular DTH service in the Czech Republic, having reached 400,000 active smart cards in February this year. It competes with both UPC Direct and Digi TV.

                    HI Telecom ownership changes
                    The Croatian alternative telco H1 Telecom is reported to have had a change of ownership, with Zagreb-based Stedbanka acquiring a 42.56% stake in the company for an undisclosed fee. H1 Telecom’s founder Zoran Curkovic and previously sole owner has retained the remaining shares. H1 Telecom is one of the leading alternative telcos in Croatia and is expected to launch an IPTV service in the near future. The incumbent T-HT has operated one named MAXtv since September 2006.

                    Cyfrowy Polsat IPO back on agenda
                    The Polish DTH platform Cyfrowy Polsat will finally hold its long awaited IPO later this month, according to unconfirmed agency reports. Details of the offer, which could raise the company up to €250 million, could be published as soon as April 10. Cyfrowy Polsat, which is over 90% owned by the entrepreneur Zygmunt Solorz-Zak and claims 2 million subscribers, has refused to comment.

                    D-Day looms for Lattelecom
                    The Latvian government is expected to decide on the future ownership of the country’s incumbent telco Lattelecom this week. According to a local report, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis said that the state would either assume full control of the telco or sell it off, in either instance selling the mobile phone company Latvijas Mobilais Telefons to TelaSonera. Lattelecom is currently majority (51%) owned by the Latvian state, with Tilts Communication, a subsidiary of TeliaSonera, holding the remaining shares. A recent proposed management buyout led by the Blackstone Group was turned down by the government. Lattelecom ended 2007 with 151,000 broadband connections and aims to increase the figure by 40% this year. It operates one of the most technologically advanced IPTV services in Central and Eastern Europe.

                    Renova Media becomes Akado
                    The Russian company Renova Media was re-branded Akado on March 31. Renova Media lists Renova Group (51%) and Yury Pripachkin (49%) as shareholders, its interests include Moscow CableCom Corp. (MCC), Comcor, Teleinform and Belarus-based Cosmos TV. Akado has until now been used as the brand name of the cable and broadband service offered by ComCor-TV in Moscow.


                      TV News_International at 03.03.2008

                      Boxer switching to MPEG-4 receivers
                      Swedish DTT operator Boxer is to begin the deployment of MPEG-4 receivers to new subscribers of the platform. The Swedish Radio and TV Authority (RTVV) has announced eight new national channels that will broadcast in the MPEG-4 format. Although there is no firm timetable, Boxer says there is “no doubt about the direction things are taking”. From April 1 Boxer, which is also responsible for approving devices to use on the network, wll no longer accept MPEG-2 receivers for test and approval. The MPEG-4 technology is backwards compatible, meaning that subscribers using the new MPEG-4 receivers, will also be able to watch the existing MPEG-2 channels.

                      Kabel Deutschland opens up to CI
                      In a revolutionary move for European cable operators Kabel Deutschland KDG will open up its network to cable tuners with a CI (Common Interface) module, enabling customers to choose from a wider range of consumer electronics equipment. The operator has reached an agreement with the trade association in consumer electronics ZVEI and the Gesellschaft für Unterhaltungs- und Kommunikationselektronik (GFU) to launch a ‘CI Plus” standard. All parties hope to introduce the first equipment for the new technology as soon as this year’s IFA, the consumer electronics trade fair at the end of August in Berlin. “The availability of digital receiving equipment that can easily connect with any cable connection will give a big push towards the digitalisation of cable,” said Dr. Manuel Cubero. The industry has now agreed on the technical specifications and is ready to roll out the first integrated products, which will include integrated digital TV sets, PVRs and cable tuners.

                      ARD and ZDF come to Zattoo
                      The German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have made their channels available to the online TV platform Zattoo. With the addition of all national, regional and thematic channels, the German version of Zattoo now has 24 more channels and offers a total of 46. Programme information of the public channels will also be published in the online EPG that Zattoo plans to introduce very soon. The platform claims 290,000 online users in Germany. Although the carriage deal with the public broadcasters is only for a test period of 12 months, it is clearly part of the strategy of them to be available on all possible platforms.

                      New French low pay DTT distributor
                      A new French distributor of low pay DTT premium channels has officially announced its entry into the market this week. TNtop, part of the [email protected] group, has started to sell a seven-channel bouquet consisting of Eurosport, Canal J, Paris Première, Planète, LCI, TF6 and AB1 for €8 a month. In addition, it is also possible to subscribe to TPS Star for €19.00 monthly. Viewers will have to buy a DTT receiver with Viaccess 3.0 encryption for €99. Since last year, a similar offer has been available from TVNuméric, while Canal+ also offers premium pay services including Canal+ subscriptions. The Neotion group will also launch a premium service later this year, bringing the total number of distributors of pay services on DTT to four.

                      Spain’s DTT gets Astra back-up
                      In Spain, the autonomous community of Cantabria announced it will use the Astra satellite at 23.5 degrees East to supplement the DTT service. All channels from the DTT platform will be made available for DTH viewing in areas not served by terrestrial transmitters. The channels will be encrypted for copyright reasons. The regional government said it will subsidise the receivers.

                      Com Hem adds Canal+ Sport HD
                      Com Hem has added Canal+ Sport HD to its package of high definition TV channels. Sport HD went live on the Swedish cablenet last Friday (March 2. It joins a line-up that also includes SVT HD, TV4 HD, Discovery HD, Canal+ Film HD, Viasat , Sport HD, TV1000 HD and Voom HD. Subscribers will need a subscription to the Canal+ Total package or Canal+ Sport HD and of course an HD receiver.

                      Ofcom confirms HD plans
                      Media regulator Ofcom has signalled the go ahead for a reorganisation of the UK DTT system, a move that will enable reception of up to four HD channels, for viewers that choose to upgrade their reception equipment. Viewers in the North West will be first to benefit when the Granada region completes its analogue switchover in 2009. The new channels will then be made available on a region-by-region basis until switchover is completed in 2012. The BBC Trust will continue to be responsible for part of the capacity in Multiplex B and this is likely to be used for BBC HD. The remaining capacity will be awarded to the commercial public service broadcasters through a competitive bidding process. Welcoming the Ofcom statement, the BBC Trust said it was suspending its consideration of a non-service application concerning the reorganisation of the spectrum that had been made by the BBC Executive, in partnership with ITV, Channel 4 and Five, until Ofcom had completed its process. Ofcom is taking advantage of both MPEG-4 and the new DVB-T2 technology that, although it has yet to be finalised, is expected to deliver savings of up to 30% of capacity.

                      iTunes Germany adds TV content
                      The iTunes Store in Germany has begun to sell local TV content following a series of deals with US and German studios. Since Wednesday April 2, customers have been able to download programmes from ProSieben, Sat.1, ZDF Enterprises, Brainpool, ABC Studios and MTV Networks. Unsurprisingly this means Lost, Desperate Housewives and South Park, but also Stromberg, Tramitz and Friends, Switch!, and Shaolin Wuzang. The company expects to add programming from ARD and RTL in the near future. A total of 35 shows are available in the German market at between €1.99 and €2.49 per episode. In March, UK iTunes users were given access to content from Channel 4, following an agreement with BBC Worldwide a month earlier.

                      Jetix and CanalSat agree new carriage deal
                      Jetix Europe has announced a new carriage deal with CanalSat, bringing to an end a dispute that had threatened to remove the kids channel from the French DTH platform. The statement released this morning (April 3) follows on from the stay of execution granted by CanalSat in December. Jetix had been scheduled to leave CanalSat on December 14 after the talks broke down in June. Negotiations had resumed last November. The agreement may also take the heat off of Canal, which faces an investigation by the CSA over its carriage deals. Last year the Groupe AB filed a complaint after the operator denied access to some of their IPTV services. Also last year, Fox Life was dropped from the CanalSat bouquet.

                      Tribunal rejects Rapture EPG appeal
                      A Competition Appeal Tribunal has unanimously rejected an appeal by Rapture Television over the provision of EPG services on the Sky Digital platform. The appeal was brought against the regulator Ofcom after a long running dispute with Sky. It argued that new entrant or small broadcasters should be entitled to a lower EPG charge when compared with the more established channels on the platform. Rapture had submitted that the cost of the initial set-top box subsidy should not be bound in with the EPG charges. It said the regulator had not properly investigated its claims against Sky. In their ruling Ms Marion Simmons QC, Professor Paul Stoneman and David Summers said that being a smaller company was not a reason for Rapture to pay a lesser charge. “The fact that Rapture’s programming appeals only to a limited proportion of those television viewers is a matter for Rapture and its choice of business plan, rather than a matter for Sky. In any case, Rapture’s assertion that it benefits to a lesser extent than other channels has not been substantiated by any evidence before us.”

                      DVB-H licensing programme announced
                      Patent licensing company Sisvel has announced the establishment of a joint licensing programme for patents essential to the DVB-H mobile TV technology. In a statement, the Italian-based organisation said that talks between France Telecom, LG Electronics, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, TB Invent, and TDF were making significant progress and agreement had already been reached on a number of points including royalty conditions for the licensing of essential patents. Fees of less than €0.70 per unit will be payable on shipments of less than one million per year with a sliding scale that decreases the fee as shipments increase. There are also discounts of up to 60% available for early adopters. The DVB organisation will be keen to avoid the disagreement that dogged the licensing process of the MHP interactive technology. Licensing of essential patents is expected to commence shortly and a final agreement expected before the summer.

                      Portugal Telecom confirms DTH launch
                      Portugal Telecom (PT) has given credence to reports of a planned DTH satellite service. A company spokesman said Meo Satellite TV would offer a package of 70 channels from the Hispasat satellite. The 30 degrees East position is already used by ZON TV Cabo for its own DTH package. Meo Satellite would be marketed to customers of PT’s existing triple-play service that includes broadband internet.


                        TV News_Central and East Europe at 10.03.2008

                        TV News_Central and East Europe at 10.03.2008

                        Eurosport HD secures Polish carriage
                        The Polish DTH platform Cyfra+ will add Eurosport HD to its channel offer on May 25. It will be made available as a localised service to subscribers for PLN5 (€1.44) a month. Cyfra already provides approximately 1.1 million homes with the HD channels Canal+ Film HD, Canal+ Sport HD and National Geographic Channel HD. None are offered by Cyfrowy Polsat and n, the country’s two other DTH platforms.

                        Serbia’s B92 launches “all news” channel
                        The Serbian broadcaster B92 has launched its “all news” channel B92 Info on major cable systems throughout the country. B92 decided to create the channel because research showed that there is great interest in a 24-hour news service. All of B92’s most popular news and information programmes, including Poligraf, B92 Investigates and Insider, as well as sports, will be broadcast on the channel. B92 Info will also start broadcasting over the internet in the near future.

                        New DTH platform for Poland
                        Poland should have a fourth DTH platform in Q3 this year thanks to the agreement just signed between Orange and Eutelsat. The launch date was confirmed to local sources by Wojciech Jabczynski, the spokesman for France Telecom-backed TPSA, the Polish incumbent telco and provider of Orange services in the country. TPSA president Maciej Witucki added that TPSA would cooperate with Canal+ but also offer its own channels. Furthermore, it would source its own decoders. With Poland already served by the DTH platforms Cyfrowy Polsat, Cyfra+ and n, and the public broadcaster TVP also considering launching a service, consolidation in the market is now seen by most industry observers as inevitable.

                        Cyfrowy Polsat outlines IPO plans
                        The Polish DTH platform Cyfrowy Polsat plans to raise up to PLN1 billion (€289.7 million) in its IPO. According to the company, its shares price will be in the range of PLN10.8 to PLN13.8 each, with a final price to be set on April 25 ahead of its debut on the Warsaw Stock Exchange on May 6. Cyfrowy Polsat, which has just over 2 million subscribers, currently lists Zygmunt Solorz-Zak as its majority (97%) shareholder.

                        Hungary posts steady ad growth
                        According to data published by the Hungarian Advertising Association (MRSz), the country’s ad market was worth HUF187 billion (€738 million) in 2007, or 6.1% more than the previous year. TV was the most popular medium, accounting for HUF75 billion of the total (+4.1%), followed by newspapers with HUF67.7 billion (+4.7%). Internet spend, though still a modest HUF14 billion, was the fastest growing at 44%. The MRSz expects the Beijing Olympics to boost the overall Hungarian ad market by 5-6% this year and for TV and Internet spend to continue growing, though that for radio to fall.

                        Ukrainian Studio1+1 sale nears
                        The US investment company CME is in the final stages of completely taking over the Ukrainian national broadcaster Studio 1+1. In a wide ranging interview in the local press, Boris Fuchsmann, a co-owner in the station, said that he and fellow co-owner Oleksandr Rodnyansky would close the deal, valued at $200 million (€127.1 million), within the next two months. He added that the deal would be undertaken in two stages, with he and Rodnyansky initial disposing of three quarters of their 40% stake and then the remaining 10% stake. Fuchsmann also said that the entrepreneur Ihor Kolomoysky would either receive $140 million from CME or shares in Studio 1+1. Besides operating a national station, Studio 1+1 also has an international channel and thematic services named Citi and Kino.

                        Highs and lows for platform n
                        The Polish DTH platform n now has over 300,000 subscribers, according to its operator ITI Group. Full year results published by the company show that the consolidated revenues for ITI Group amounted to €484,776,000 in 2007, with the TVN Group accounting for the lion’s share (€417,646,000) of the total. However, n, classified under an “activities under development” banner, posted a negative EBITDA of €48,673,000. The platform, which was launched in October 2006, competes in a market also served by Cyfrowy Polsat and Cyfra+, which between them have just over 3 million subscribers.

                        Estonia sets ASO date
                        Estonia has set its analogue switch off date as June 2010, a full 18 months earlier than had at first been envisaged. This follows the government’s approval of a draft act drawn up by the Ministry of Culture amending the existing Broadcasting Act. The draft also says that in future no new privately owned digital channels will have to pay fees for broadcast licences, as is currently the case for analogue services. At present, around 200,000 homes in Estonia receive only analogue terrestrial TV signals. It had previously been announced that the country was to move its ASO date forward to 2010, with the date to be reviewed in 2009.

                        Macedonia to issue sat licences
                        Macedonia’s Broadcasting Council will call a tender this month for licences for 10 satellite services. Five of the licences will be for TV channels with general entertainment programming, while the remaining five will be for thematic TV channels. It is expected that the licences will be awarded by July. The conditions for taking part in the tender will include a €3 million bank guarantee, at least 60 employees and high quality digital equipment. According to local media reports, five companies have so far expressed an interest in taking part in the tender.

                        All systems go for Czech Z1
                        The Czech company Z1 has finally obtained a ‘compensatory’ digital TV licence from the country’s Broadcasting Council (RRTV). According to a local report, it is now likely to launch a digital TV channel offering news and current affairs programming within the next two months. Z1 will compete directly with the Czech public broadcaster’s CT24.


                          TV News_International at 10.03.2008

                          TV News_International at 10.03.2008

                          Atlantic Bird 3 joins Hot Bird in Orange TV
                          April 10, 2008
                          Eutelsat has announced its Atlantic Bird 3 satellite will provide coverage of the French market for Orange TV. The five degrees West position has historically been used to provide coverage of the French terrestrial channels in areas where over the air reception is patchy.
                          Atlantic Bird 3 will join with the Eutelsat Hot Bird neighbourhood at 13 degrees East to provide the TV element of Orange’s triple play service in areas where ADSL is unavailable. Given that these are just the areas where terrestrial TV is also likely to be at its weakest justifies the dual satellite proposition. Between them the two positions already reach 4.8 million antennas in France.
                          A new version of the Orange TV Livebox is being developed for satellite reception. Orange TV sister company GlobeCast, already a major Eutelsat partner, is slated to provide uplink facilities.

                          RAI and Mediaset plan Italian freesat
                          April 11, 2008
                          Italian commercial network Mediaset has begun talks with public broadcaster RAI over plans to run a free digital satellite offer that would complement the existing DTT packages.
                          The Italian ‘freesat’ would use the Eutelsat Hot Bird neighbourhood at 13 degrees East where the two broadcasters channels have been relayed for many years. Both sets of channels, including RAI Uno, RAI Due, Rete 4 and Canale 5 are broadcast in the clear.
                          News of the talks follows the collapse of negotiations between Mediaset and Sky Italia over the sale of movie rights.

                          More Intelsat capacity for Brazil, DTH for Colombia
                          April 11, 2008
                          Intelsat has announced that its IS 10-02 satellite has been authorised for the provision of satellite capacity to Brazil. The company has also said it has won a DTH contract for Colombia.
                          Through the new transmission authorization, the Intelsat 10-02 spacecraft at 359 degrees East orbital location will join the 13 other satellites within Intelsat’s global fleet serving Brazil.
                          The company has also announced that Bogota-based Elite Entertainment Television S.A. has contracted a multi-year, multi-transponder deal with Intelsat to distribute DTH content to its customers in Colombia. Elite Entertainment is the 28th DTH platform hosted on the Intelsat global network.
                          Under the terms of the contract, Elite will use Intelsat’s capacity to distribute its programming bouquet of movies, sports, news and entertainment. The National Commission of Television of Colombia (CNTV) awarded the country’s third DTH licence to Elite Entertainment Television S.A.

                          SES Americom declares AMC-14 a total loss
                          April 11, 2008
                          SES American has declared to insurers that its recently launched satellite, AMC-14, is now considered a total loss due to a lack of viable options to reposition the satellite to its proper geostationary orbit.
                          “SES and Lockheed Martin have carefully examined all the available options for repositioning this satellite into its intended geostationary orbit,” said Edward Horowitz, president and CEO of SES Americom in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, none of those options would allow effective use of the spacecraft. The various repositioning scenarios presented carry unacceptable risks, and would result in a severely shortened life of the satellite. Therefore, we have no choice but to claim a total loss of the satellite with our insurers.”
                          AMC-14 was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems and launched on a Proton/Breeze M rocket provided by ILS (International Launch Services) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch of AMC-14 failed on March 15 when an anomaly during the second burn of the fourth stage of the rocket resulted in the satellite being placed short of the planned geostationary transfer orbit.

                          Canal+ not pleased with Orange TV plans
                          April 11, 2008
                          Canal+ CEO Bertrand Méheut is not pleased with the plans by Orange to launch more channels with movies and TV series, according to an interview in the French newspaper Le Figaro. “The mask has fallen down”.
                          During his keynote at MIPTV, France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard tried to play down his role as a media player by claiming “that now everyone has become a media player”, pointing at the surge of user generated content. But Méheut is not impressed: “Orange has posted results to the tune of €53 billion; compare this with our €4.3 billion. We are not against competition, but we should have the same weapons.”
                          Orange TV will launch its DTH service for France on the Eutelsat orbital positions of 13 and 5 degrees East. According to the satellite operator, 4.8 million French homes have already pointed their dish towards at least one of these positions.


                            TV News_Central and East Europe at 18.04.2008

                            TV News_Central and East Europe at 18.04.2008

                            Dolce claims 500,000 subs
                            The Romanian DTH platform Dolce says it has now reached 500,000 subscribers.
                            By doing so, it accounts for over 33% of a satellite market also served by four other operations. All told, the service is now watched on around 700,000 TV sets by over 1.5 million Romanians and reaches 10% of the entire Romanian market.
                            Dolce is operated by the OTE-backed incumbent telco Romtelecom and made its debut in December 2006.

                            New DTH platform for Hungary
                            Hungary will see the launch of a third DTH platform on May 1. Local reports say the service will be known as Hello HD and offer viewers a mix of HD and SD channels, the former including Eurosport HD, HBO HD, Nat Geo HD and Filmbox HD. It will be distributed by Eurobird 9 at 9 degrees East and employ Conax conditional access. Hungary is already served by the DTH platforms UPC Direct and Digi TV.

                            Orange sports channel for Poland
                            The Polish incumbent telco TPSA will launch a new TV channel named Orange Sport this August. Local reports indicate the service will offer live transmissions of Polish premier league (Ekstraklasa) games not being carried by Canal+. Orange Sport will be a paid-for channel, made available both to subscribers of TPSA’s IPTV service Videostrada and its new DTH platform, expected to make its debut in the third quarter.

                            Polsat reveals news channel launch date
                            The Polish national commercial station Polsat has confirmed that it will launch it long-awaited news channel in June. Speaking to the local press, Polsat’s owner Zygmunt Solorz-Zak said that the channel – whose name he refused to confirm as Poslat News – would cost in the tens of millions of zloty to set up. It will be distributed by cable operators and the proprietary platform Cyfrowy Polsat, which currently has around 2.2 million subscribers. The channel will compete directly with TVN’s TVN24, by far the most popular thematic channel in Poland.

                            Viasat sets Ukraine launch date
                            Viasat will finally launch its long-awaited Ukrainian DTH platform on April 21. Operated by Vision TV, established as a joint venture between Modern Times Group (MTG) and Strong Media Group, it will offer subscribers a choice of three packages – Viasat Family, Viasat Popular and Viasat Prestige – of up to 60 channels and costing between UAH48 (€6.23) and UAH135 a month to receive. Ukraine is also preparing for the launch of DTH platforms operated by Poverkhnost Satellite Communications and DataGroup.

                            TVP steps up DTT tests
                            The Polish public broadcaster TVP has begun a DTT trial in the Lubuskie region of the country bordering Germany. According to a local report, it is broadcasting a total of seven proprietary channels – TVP1, TVP2, TVP Info/Gorzów, TVP Polonia, TVP Kultura, TVP Sport and TVP Historia – in MPEG-4 and Dolby Digital Sound. TVP is also currently undertaking almost identical trials, though without TVP Polonia, from transmitters in Srem (Poznan), Warsaw and Kraków, and MPEG-2 trials offering only three channels in the South East of the country.

                            MTG completes Russian sale
                            Sweden’s Modern Times Group (MTG) has announced the completion of the sale of its Russian FTA station DTV to CTC Media for $395 million (€248.9 million). The deal, which was first announced in March this year, represents a consolidation of MTG’s assets in Russia, which include a 39.5% stake in CTC Media. MTG acquired a 75% stake in DTV in April 2001 and increased its stake to 100% in 2004.

                            Czech TV sets HD target
                            The Czech public broadcaster CT plans to start HD transmissions in 2010. Speaking to the local press, the station’s technical director Rudolf Pop said that format would first be used in coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. CT, as well as TV Nova, Prima TV and Telefónica O2, have all already undertaken HD trials. There are also a growing number of channels in the format being made available in the Czech Republic, including HBO HD, Mat Geo HD and Voom HD.

                            Hungarian Pannon looks at DTT
                            The Hungarian mobile operator Pannon is considering running in the DTT tender recently announced by the country’s National Communications Authority (NHH). According to a local report, it has bought the documents for the tender, which will see the award of 12-year licences to operate up to five DTT multiplexes. To date, only the national transmission company Antenna Hungária has confirmed that will participate in the tender, the results of which should be known this summer.

                            Russian IPTV takes off
                            The IPTV service Stream TV operated by Comstar-Direct in Moscow ended 2007 with 122,300 subscribers, or 47% more than 12 months earlier. At the same time, Comstar’s broadband Internet subscriber total in the capital rose by 81% to 695,000, of whom 651,000 were residential customers. Comstar also claimed a further 48,000 broadband subscribers, of whom 33,000 were residential, in the regions.

                            Croatian H1 secures new backer
                            The Croatian alternative telco H1 Telekom has changed its ownership structure, with Hrvatska postanska banka (HPB) acquiring a 41.25% stake in the company. H1 Telekom was established in 2004 and expects to launch an IPTV service in the near future, having already undertaken trials in the city of Split.


                              TV News_Central and East Europe 02.05.2008

                              TV News_Central and East Europe 02.05.2008

                              New HBO Central Europe appointment
                              Ondrej Zach has been appointed VP, Programming and Acquisitions for all HBO Central Europe’s regional channels. These include HBO, HBO2, HBO Comedy, Cinemax, Cinemax 2, HBO Digital SVOD and HD services. Zach, who is based in Prague, will retain his current position of executive director of HBO in the Czech Republic and will continue to oversee HBO’s operations in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

                              MTV promotion for Bhavneet Singh
                              Bhavneet Singh has been promoted to executive VP and MD of MTV Networks International’s (MTVNI’s) Emerging Markets Group. In his new role, he will continue to oversee all aspects of its businesses in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, with Russia a new addition to his remit. Singh joined MTV Networks in June 2004 and has been with the Emerging Markets group since 2006. He has done much to consolidate MTVNI’s assets in the CEE region, growing those in Poland to seven channels.

                              Serbian magnate to launch TV Pink in Croatia
                              After several failed attempts, the Serbian media magnate Zeljko Mitrovic has finally succeeded in getting a foothold in the Croatian media market for his Pink Media Group. Mitrovic has purchased the Croatian local channel Net for €2.5 million, which will serve as the launch pad for a new Croatian TV network called Pink Hrvatska, due to launch by the end of the year. Net is currently the most popular local TV station in Croatia and the fifth in TV audience ratings. Earlier this week, Croatia’s Council for Electronic Media extended Net’s licence for an additional 12 years. The station’s concession area is for the city of Bjelovar and Northern Croatia. Mitrovic is also negotiating the acquisition of up to nine smaller local TV channels across Croatia, with the goal of providing the widest possible coverage for Pink Hrvatska. There also plans to broadcast the new TV channel in digital DVB technology. The Pink Media Group owns a network of TV and radio channels in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which are available on terrestrial, digital satellite and cable.

                              New sports channel for Czech Republic
                              A new Czech sports channel named Sport 5 is set to make its debut today Friday (May 2). According to local reports, the service, which obtained a licence from the National Broadcasting Council (RRTV) in 2007, is owned by a company of the same name and has been in the planning for four years. It will be distributed by Astra 1E at 23.5 degrees East and offered to cable, DTH and IPTV viewers.

                              Magyar Telekom exits RTL Klub
                              The incumbent Hungarian telco Magyar Telekom is set to become the country’s leading interactive mobile service provider and at the same time lose its interest in RTL Klub. This follows the company’s decision to buy out its partner IKO Partner and acquire full stakes in IKO New Media and IKO Content and Rights. The deal, which still has to receive regulatory approval, will also net the telco a HUF2 billion (€7.92 million) fee for relinquishing its stake in M-RTL, which holds a 31% stake in RTL Klub, Hungary’s leading broadcaster.

                              Financial high for CME
                              The US investment company CME enjoyed a significant upturn in its financial fortunes in the first quarter, its net revenues of $223,470,000 (€143,181,163) being 51% up on the corresponding period in 2007. Its operating income was meanwhile 236% higher at $44,676,000, and net income of $14,895,000 contrasted with a loss of $250,000 12 months earlier. Although the Czech Republic remains by far its most lucrative market, with segment revenues of $85,558,000 and EBITDA of $43,845,000 in Q1 2008, second placed Romania ($57,996,000 and $23,376,000) continues to perform exceptionally well. However, improvements were posted across the board in all six CEE markets the company is present in. CME projects revenues of $1.1 billion and broadcast segment EBITDA of $440 million this year, with particularly strong growth in its new media businesses.

                              Comstar pay-TV take-up grows
                              Comstar-UTS ended Q1 with 241,000 pay-TV subscribers in Russia, or 8% more than three months earlier. In Moscow, the figure stood at 130,000. The company’s broadband Internet subscriber base meanwhile stood at 848,000 nationally (+14%), the majority of which (769,000, +15%) were based in Moscow, where 90% used Internet access speeds of 1Mbps or above. Sistema-backed Comstar-UTS expects to have one million broadband subscribers in Moscow and 100,000 in the regions by the end of this year and to account for 50% of the Moscow broadband market by the end of 2011.

                              Polish IPTV sub total creeps up
                              The incumbent Polish telco TPSA ended Q1 with 49,000 subscribers to its IPTV service, or 9,000 more than three months earlier. At the same time, it had 405,000 Livebox and 164,000 VoIP subscribers at the end of Q1, while its retail broadband subscriber total stood at 2,079,000. France Telecom-backed TPSA plans to launch what will be Poland’s fourth DTH platform later this year.

                              Prima TV to expand DTT broadcasts
                              The Czech national commercial station Prima TV plans to start DTT broadcasts in city of Brno in the second half of May, according to Patrik Slavnik, its technical director. He was speaking about MTG-backed Prima TV’s plans at a conference in Prague and quoted in the local press. At present, viewers in Brno can receive the public channels CT1, CT2, CT24 and CT4 Sport, along with the national commercial station TV Nova, via a multiplex operated by Ceske Radiokomunikace. Prima TV, along with a number of other services including music-based Ocko, will be made available to them via the multiplex operated by the Czech Digital Group (CDG).

                              CTC Media revenues rise
                              The Russian broadcaster CTC Media has posted operating revenues of $136,746,000 (€87,458,10 for the first quarter, or 31.3% more than in the corresponding period in 2007. At the same time, its OIBDA rose by 24.7% year-on-year to $55,236,000. The company’s viewing figures, however, were slightly down on a year earlier for the CTC Network (8.8% v 9.3% in the 4+ demographic), though that for the Domashny Network (2.3% v 1.9% in the 4+ demographic) was up. CTC Media includes Sweden’s MTG among its backers and also has a presence in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It recently agreed to acquire a regional station named DTV, owned by MTG.

                              TV Puls reveals expansion plans
                              The Polish regional station TV Puls plans to launch a number of thematic channels ahead of the country’s transition to digital broadcasting in 2012, according to its president, Dariusz Dabski. TV Puls is backed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and aims to become a leading player in a market hitherto dominated by publicly owned TVP and the national commercial stations Polsat and TVN. It is reported to be currently available terrestrially to around 30% of Polish viewers and 77% of those receiving their programming via cable or satellite. The new channels, probably obtained from the News Corp stable, are likely to be accompanied by moves to increase TV Puls’s coverage and raise its audience share, which, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, still stands at less than 1%.


                                TV News_International at 02.05.2008

                                TV News_International at 02.05.2008

                                NASN and ESPN Classic launch on D-Smart
                                The North American Sports Network (NASN) launched on the D-Smart DTH platform in Turke on May 1. ESPN Classic will follow in one month's time. Lynne Frank, ESPN senior VP and MD of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said in a prepared statement, “Turkey is an important and growing media market for ESPN and we are therefore delighted that NASN and ESPN Classic will now be available to sports fans on the same platform.” The May 1 launch of NASN is the latest step in the channel’s rapid growth, providing access to North American sports for fans around the world. Since September 2006, the channel has grown its reach from 1 million households across 6 countries to more than 13 million households now across 43 European countries.

                                SVT HD joins Viasat
                                Viasat Broadcasting is to add the HD version of public broadcaster SVT to its line-up. The channel, already available from rival Canal Digital, will be added to Viasat’s IPTV and satellite packages. SVT HD will join a line-up that already includes Viasat Sport HD, TV1000 HD and National Geographic HD. Separately, Danish channel TV2 Sport HD is to commence high definition coverage from the SAS football league when it resumes after the winter break.

                                Freesat receiver pricing revealed
                                The cost of purchasing a satellite receiver for the BBC-ITV venture Freesat has been revealed by the retailer Argos. A supplement from the catalogue store that appeared in the weekend papers shows four models by Bush and Goodmans. The entry level Bush standard definition receiver is priced at £129.99, while the high definition version costs £199. Sister company Goodmans is offering SD and HD units at £199.99 and £229.99 respectively. The prices include the £80 cost of installation for the accompanying dish and accompanying cable. By contrast the rival Freesat from Sky is priced at £150 for a standard definition service including installation. Freesat is promising over 80 TV channels, though none outside the BBC and ITV are mentioned in the advertisement, and there remains concern that Channel 4 HD and Five may not be a part of the initial launch line-up.

                                BBC iPlayer makes Virgin debut
                                Virgin Media today announced the introduction of the BBC iPlayer for its 3.5 million cable customers. It’s the first time the on demand service has been made available on a TV platform. Virgin customers will be able to access the iPlayer by pressing the Red Button on any BBC channel. Despite the anticipation ahead of the launch, access through the electronic programme guide will not be available until the summer. The line-up is largely the same as the web-based version, although there are some regional variations and rights restrictions. A limited amount of BBC content has been available as part of Virgin Media’s existing catch-up TV service for some time. Freely available content also includes contributions from Channel 4 and Virgin-owned channels Living, Virgin 1 and Bravo.

                                France: number of DTT receivers doubled
                                In the past year, the number of DTT receivers sold or rented out in France more than doubled to 17.4 million, according to research from GfK. Since March 2005, 13,006,000 receivers have been sold in stores. In addition, some 4.4 million set-top-boxes have been rented out by such platforms as Canal+, Orange and Alice. The total number of sets more than doubled from 8.2 million at the end of March 2007 to 17.4 million in March this year. This represents a total reach of 37% of all French homes.

                                KPN to launch DVB-H service before June
                                The Dutch incumbent KPN will launch its DVB-H service before the summer and in time for the start of the Euro 2008 football championships, said board member Baptiest Coopmans to the local press. The offer will include several live streaming services, including dedicated mobile channels. Earlier, the operator said it has signed an agreement with RTL to supply two channels including one made-for-mobile. KPN will also launch a mobile TV version of DAG, the multimedia news service made in a joint venture with PCM newspaper publishers, which until now has included a website, free daily newspaper and a mobile version.

                                Broad welcome for TV5 accord
                                The board of directors at TV5 Monde have officially appointed Alain de Pouzilhac as chairman of the French-speaking channel. Marie-Christine Saragosse was appointed as director-general during the meeting on Tuesday afternoon while the current CEO Francois Bonnemain has tendered his resignation. The meeting followed months of discord between France and the non-French partners in the organisation, Belgium, Canada and Switzerland, over what was perceived as a casual attitude to the organisation. All parties have now welcomed the new agreement that is seen as safeguarding the multilateral approach of the channel. The new organisation brings TV5 together with international news channel France 24 and RFI on areas including distribution/marketing, news, research and development, and websites.

                                Sky churn at lowest level for 4 years
                                BSkyB put evidence of the resilience of the pay-TV sector in the current credit crunch forward in its results to the end of March. The DTH broadcaster reported net customer growth of 56,000 as total subscribers reached 8.888 million. New customer additions of 289,000 helped churn fall to its lowest level for four years at 10.5%. The average revenue per unit (ARPU) increased to £424. The leading product continues to be the Sky+ personal video recorder, adding 262,000 installs to 3.393 million. HD also continues to increase, a further 43,000 households bringing the total to 465,000. Broadband increased by 229,000 to 1.428 million and the Sky Talk telephony service put on 180,000 homes to 1.095 million. Third quarter revenues increased by 10% to £3,706 million and operating profits totalled £504 million.

                                Miniweb goes live on Sky
                                Miniweb has launched its much-anticipated TV Key service on the Sky Digital platform. The service went live on April 29 and is available to all 8.8 million DTH subscribers through the interactive menu and individual channels that adopt the TV Keys system. Miniweb, run by former Sky executive Ian Valentine, has also launched a content acquisition programme to assist broadcasters and advertisers in putting interactive content to air. The TV Key system works through open standards. Users type a numeric key on their remote control following an on screen prompt that takes them to the dedicated TV Site with the channel reduced to a quarter screen.

                                NDS nudging 90m active smart cards
                                NDS has announced an increase in third quarter revenues of 20% bringing in $213.3 million to the News Corp technology division. Nine-month revenues were up 25% to $633.1 million. The company now has 86.9 million active digital TV smart cards, 83.1 million cumulative middleware clients deployed and 12.1 million cumulative personal video recorder clients deployed (NDS prefers the term DVR). Revenue from conditional access increased by 21% in the three-month period and 25% over the nine months. The rise comes ahead of the commencement of the recently announced CA contract with Germany’s Premiere. NDS is benefitting from an increase in subscriber numbers for its customers. The same factor has also produced a rise in EPG royalties.

                                Rapture to appeal against CAT EPG decision
                                Rapture TV has signalled its intention to appeal against the findings of a Competition Commission Appeals Tribunal on its dispute with Ofcom and BSkyB. Rapture believes that Sky charges broadcasters excessively high fees to supply an EPG service on the DTH platform that have nothing to do with the cost of providing a technical service. Rapture maintains Sky breached the requirements of the Communications Act 2003 by failing to enter into meaningful commercial negotiations. The channel also says that Ofcom has failed in its duties to ensure cost separation between EPG charges and other non-technical. Rapture’s original appeal, in which it argued that smaller channels should pay lesser charges than more established broadcasters, was unanimously rejected by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

                                Costs cap Canal Digital
                                The expansion of the Canal Digital product portfolio helped increase first quarter sales at the Nordic pay-TV platform from NOK1,396m (€174.94m) to NOK1,477m (€185.09m). However, higher content and hardware cost contributed to a near halving of profits within the Canal Digital Group to NOK61m. DTH subscribers fell by 18,000 to 1,124,000 million on March 31, 2008. This was compensated in part by an increase of cable TV subscribers of 10,000 to 710,000 and cable TV internet access of 40,000 to 140,000. Total operating profit within the Telenor Broadcast Division fell from NOK223 to NOK210, though EBITDA climbed slightly from NOK375m to NOK386m. The cost of the new Thor 5 satellite, successfully launched in February, was included in first quarter capital expenditure.

                                NXP to acquire Conexant’s STB operations
                                NXP Semiconductors is to acquire the Broadband Media Processing (BMP) business of Conexant Systems for $110 million (€70.4 million) in cash with an additional payment of up to $35 million based on financial performances over the period from closing through 2009. NXP said it aims to combine the company’s existing set-top box and digital TV operations with Conexant’s BMP operations. Conexant’s STB solutions are complementary to NXP’s terrestrial IP and retail STB and digital TV products, according to NXP. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the next 60 days.

                                Motorola reaches Spanish milestone
                                Motorola has announced the shipment of its one-millionth set-top box to the Spanish cable operator ONO. The Motorola DVI 3120 receiver supplied by Motorola enables ONO, which made its debut 10 years ago, to offer a range of services including digital TV, impulse PPV and VOD. ONO claims over 3.8 million RGUs and six million viewers throughout Spain. It posted revenues of €1.62 billion and an operating profit of €642 million in 2007.

                                Orange Spain adds Digital+ Móvil
                                Mobile operator Orange has added the channel bouquet from Digital+ Móvil to its mobile TV offering in Spain. This package initially consists of 27 channels across a range of genres including news, music, movies, sports, entertainment and adult content. The bouquet has both live broadcast channels, as well as made-for-mobile content. These include Canal+ Móvil, Canal+ Fútbol, Canal+ Comedia móvil, Canal+ Deportes móvil. Other channels in the line-up are Jetix, Jetix Extra, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, 40TV, Adult Swim, 40 Latino, CNN+, Del 40 al 1, PRO TV, Guiñoles, TVCi, Viajar, Caracol, Caza y Pesca móvil, Ecuavisa and the Méteo weather service.

                                Zattoo brings big five channels to online TV
                                Online TV service Zattoo has added BBC One and ITV1 to its line-up, bringing together the big five terrestrial channels on a single online platform for the first time. BBC One and BBC Two are presently unavailable as a streamed service, although the BBC News Channel has been carried on the BBC website for some time. ITV1 is available on itv.com, but unlike Zattoo the service is restricted to PC users. Viewers can download the Zattoo player from the company’s website. The service is free, although pre-roll advertisements have already been introduced in other countries, activated when the viewer changes channels.


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