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CEE TV industry news stories

Chris Dziadul, December 21, 2023

Earthquake at Poland’s TVP
Poland’s new coalition government has made wholesale changes at the public broadcaster TVP, including the dismissal of the Management and Supervisory Boards. Amid strong protests from the Law and Justice (PiS) opposition party, it has also dismissed several heads of departments, including TVP’s president, in order to what it says is depoliticise the broadcaster. The new head of TVP has been confirmed as Tomasz Szygut, who held a number of editorial and executive positions at TVP between 2011- 2015 and subsequently spent three years at the commercial broadcaster Nowa TV. Meanwhile, the head of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) has strongly criticised the dismissals and blackout of the TV channel TVP Info on Thursday, December 20.
 
Telekom Srbija secures Serie A rights
Telekom Srbija’s subsidiary Arena TV has bought the broadcasting rights to the Italian premier football league Lega Serie A for €24 million a season. This is reportedly more than that paid in broadcasting deals by other parties for Belgium and the DACH countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  
 
TVN Warner Bros. Discovery promotes Adam Sawicki
Adam Sawicki has been appointed group senior VP Digital at TVN Warner Bros Discovery in Poland, effective January 1, 2024. In his new role he will be responsible for be the consolidation of activities in the digital area, strategy and a new standard for managing digital projects of the media concern. Sawicki joined TVN Warner Bros. Discovery in April this year and was head of digital since September.  
 
Managerial changes at TV Markiza and TV Nova
Vladimir Rosol has been promoted to the position of chief news editor at the Czech Republic’s TV Nova. He replaces Michal Kratochvil, who will become the new director of news and journalism at Slovakia’s TV Markiza. TV Nova and TV Markiza are both owned by PPF Group’s Central European Media Enterprises (CME).
 
Satellite TV contracts in Romania
The number of subscribers receiving satellite TV (DTH) services in Romania stood at only 1 million as of June 30 this year. According to the regulator ANCOM, this was down from 1.3 million in the same period last year and 1.6 million on June 30, 2021. At the same time, the take-up of cable TV continued to grow, with the number of subscribers receiving services up from 6.4 million as of June 30, 2022 to 6.7 million in Q2 this year. Significantly, Romania is one of the few markets in CEE where the take-up of IPTV is minimal. Indeed, there were only 80,000 IPTV subscribers as of Q2, down from 110,000 a year earlier. The total number of pay-TV subscribers in Romania has been relatively stable in the last few quarters at around 7.8 million.
 
Hungarian State sells stake in Yettel
Corvinus International Investment, which is wholly owned by the Hungarian State, has agreed to sell a 25% stake in the telco Yettel and Yettel Real Estate, as well as 20% of CETIN Hungary, to the Dutch holding company TMT Hungary Holdco. The latter is owned by the Czech Republic’s PPF Group and the transaction is for an undisclosed fee. The Hungarian State will continue to play an important role in the country’s telecom market through cooperation agreements with Magyar Telekom and Vodafone. Following the transaction, Corvinus will retain a 29.5% stake in Vodafone Hungary. Proceeds from the sale will be used by the Hungarian State to help finance the repurchase of Budapest Airport.
 
Netflix overtakes YouTube in Poland
Netflix’s viewership increased by 15% among TV screen viewers in Poland in November. According the Nielsen’s The Gauge, this allowed it to overtake YouTube, whose viewership remained unchanged during the month, and regain top spot with a share of 1.7%. YouTube claimed 1.6% and other streamers a combined 3.4%, with HBO Max, Viaplay and Apple TV+ in the latter category all recording increases.
 
Czech CRA acquires Cloud4com
The Czech national transmission company CRA has bought Cloud4com (C4C) from ARICOMA Group for a fee expected to exceed CZK1 billion (€40.78 million). The transaction also includes strategic cooperation between CRA, a subsidiary of Cordiant Digital Infrastructure Limited. C4C is one of the largest domestic cloud specialists in the Czech Republic.
 
EU sanctions more Russian channels
The European Union (EU) has sanctioned two more Russian TV channels as part of its 12th package of sanctions imposed on individuals and entities it says are “responsible for actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”. Alongside Tsargard TV and Spas TV, it says it will also apply restrictive measures against four telcos in Ukraine that Russian has temporarily occupied, namely Mirtelecom, Lyukstrans, Krymtelecom and Beto.
 
A1 and Yettel object to Bulsatcom deal
A1 has filed an appeal against the antimonopoly body CPC for seeing no problem in Vivacom acquiring essential infrastructure from Bulsatcom, its main competitor in the provision of TV and internet services in Bulgaria. This follows a decision by the Administrative Court of the Sofia region stopping the immediate implementation of the same decision on December 15. A1 says that CPC’s conclusion is a consequence of another “incorrect” one by the body, namely failing to consider the acquisition alongside the sale of Bulsatcom as a whole to United Group’s Bulgarian subsidiary Vivacom.  Yettel Bulgaria has meanwhile submitted a request to the CPC to suspend the proceedings for the acquisition of Bulsatcom by United Group’s Bulgarian subsidiary. Like A1, it says the sale of Bulstacom’s infrastructure and the company as a whole are related and should be considered in their entirety by the CPC to assess their effect.  
 
EBU reflects on 30 years of European Unity
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has spoken about how it united Europe through media after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In the 30 years since it began to welcome members from CEE in 1993, the initial broadcasters from region that joined the EBU have contributed 3,750 hours of news to the Eurovision News Exchange and offered more than 12,000 concerts through the Euroradio Music Exchange. However, their most visible impact was perhaps the Eurovision Song Contest, which CEE broadcasters have won seven times in the last 30 years.
 
inext partners in Azerbaijan
Ukraine’s inext has entered into a partnership with KATV1 (AG Telekom Ltd), one of the largest digital service providers in Azerbaijan. It allows for the use of inext’s Alcatraz cloud service, which simplifies the process of integrating and updating KATV1’s own application on the company’s set-top boxes. inext specialises in software development and production of Android set-top boxes and media players for B2B and B2C markets.
 
UPC goes mobile in Slovakia
UPC Broadband Slovakia has added mobile services to its offer in cooperation with the operator SWAN, which uses the brand name 4ka. UPC Slovakia is the last company owned by Liberty Global in Central and Eastern Europe. It is one of the leading providers of TV, internet and fixed-line telephony services in Slovakia.
 
Key Polish deal for T-Mobile
T-Mobile is now working with PSO, the largest exclusive fibre operator in Poland. Thanks to an agreement signed by the two parties that regulates their cooperation in both HFC and FTTH networks, T-Mobile has gained access to the PSO network, covering nearly 3.8 million households.

 
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© Chris Dziadul, 2023
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