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CEE TV industry news stories

Chris Dziadul, May 16, 2024
 
 
 
Ukraine registers first FAST channels
The Ukrainian regulator National Council has registered the first FAST channels in the country. Offering content from the 1+1 Media Group, they are The World Inside Out+ (travel), The Lost World (documentaries), Opera On Call+, along with Family Melodramas+ and ZhVL+ (reality and education). The channels will be on air for 24 hours daily and distributed by Ukraine’s leading OTT platforms Kyivstar TV, Sweet TV, Megogo, YouTV and OmegaTV.
 
Russian language Svoboda News debuts
Reporters without Frontiers (RSF) has announced the launch of Svoboda News, a new channel designed to provide daily independent and reliable Russian-language news content to audiences worldwide. The new venture is part of the broader Svoboda Satellite project aimed at promoting press freedom across borders and launched in March this year. Svoboda News will have The Insider, Russian independent media, as one of its key content providers.
 
Netflix to open Content Warsaw
Michael Azzolino, Netflix’s VP of content for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Benelux and Turkey, and Łukasz Kłuskiewicz, the streamer’s director of film and content acquisitions in CEE, will jointly lead the opening keynote session at Content Warsaw next month. In their opening session on the first day of the conference, Tuesday June 4, Azzolino and Kłuskiewicz will focus on the long-term partnerships Netflix is building with creators in the region and discuss the company’s richly varied slate of Polish original productions, with an array of new shows and films scheduled to launch this year. For further details about Content Warsaw, please go to:
 
Rebrand for Romania’s RCS&RDS
RCS&RDS, one of the main providers of convergent electronic communications services in Romania, has been rebranded Digi Romania. Digi Romania is the leading pay-TV operator in the country and as of the end of last year its fibre-optic infrastructure covered over 9.1 million homes. It is part of Digi Communications, which also has assets in Spain and Italy and will later this year also launch services in Portugal and Belgium. The rebrand to Digi Romania officially took place on May 15.  
 
Gazprom-Media partners with China Media Corporation
Russia’s Gazprom-Media and China Media Corporation have signed a cooperation agreement to jointly promote technological developments in the media sector, strengthen joint work in news broadcasting and exchange expertise on issues of media development. The agreement was signed by Gazprom-Media CEO Alexander Zharov and China Media Corporation (CMG) CEO Shen Haixiong in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Gazprom-Media is the largest Russian media corporation, owning assets in news broadcasting, TV, cinema, content production and distribution, digital services, radio, press and online publications. Meanwhile, China Media Corporation is the largest media company in China.
 
Czech Prima expands presence in Slovakia
The Czech national commercial broadcaster FTV Prima will launch Prima COOL SK, a channel aimed solely at the Slovak market, on May 27. It will be distributed by most satellite, cable, IPTV and pay-DTT services in Slovakia, offer original comedy series, entertainment shows, motoring and travel magazines and target a mostly young and male audience. The Prima Group has been broadcasting in Slovakia since 2017, when it launched Prima PLUS, now to be renamed Prima SK. It added CNN Prima News to its portfolio in Slovakia in 2020 and is preparing to add a further channel (Prima LOVE SK) in the autumn.  
 
Polish cablecos under investigation
Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has initiated proceedings against the cable operators Vectra and Multimedia Polska. In a statement, it says that the allegations concern the method of presenting prices and depriving consumers of a discount when they did not pay the subscription or other fees indicated on the bill on time. The two companies – Vectra is the country’s leading cable operator and it owns Multimedia Polska – face a fine of up to 10% of their annual turnover if the allegations are confirmed. UOKiK points out that proceedings are also under way for similar practices by P4, Canal+ and T-Mobile.  
 
Streamer Voyo’s growth continues
CME’s streaming service Voyo had premiered 34 new originals by the end of last year, according PPF Group’s 2023 Annual Report. As of the end of last year it had 650,000 paying subscribers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia – the number is expected to reach one million at some stage in 2025 – and was close to passing one million paying subscribers across all its markets. In most of its markets it was a top three SVOD service provider and the number one local provider. CME has more than 100 linear and Voyo projects in the pipeline, with production hours up 20% year-on-year.
 
Digi makes solid start to 2024
Digi Communications ended the first quarter with 5,718,000 pay-TV (cable and satellite) subscribers in its home market Romania. This, according to the company in its latest results, was 3.8% more than in the same period last year. Its Romanian RGU total, adding in broadband, mobile and fixed-line telephony, was 17.3 million customers, an 8.5% increase year-on-year. Digi notes that it is approaching a historic milestone of 25 million RGUs across the markets it operates in. Aside from Romania these are Spain, where growth is being driven by the mobile segment, and Italy, with commercial service launches planned in Portugal and Belgium later this year. Digi’s revenues in Q1 amounted to €446.7 million (+12% year-on-year) and adjusted EBITDA excluding the IFRS 16 impact €139.9 million (+23.4% year-on-year).
 
Hungarian media companies ink Chinese deals
Hungary’s 4iG and Huawei Technologies Hungary have signed a preliminary agreement on the creation of a joint cloud service and AI research innovation centres. The relationship between the two companies became closer following 4iG’s acquisition of Vodafone Hungary as the latter’s mobile network solutions are partly based on Huawei technology. 4iG has extensive interests across Hungary’s media and telecom sectors. These have been boosted by the acquisition of – amongst others – Antenna Hungária and Digi Hungary. It also has a presence in Albania and Montenegro. In a separate development, the Hungarian public broadcaster MTVA has signed a programme exchange agreement with China Media Group. It signed a similar agreement with China’s Hunan Broadcasting System last year.
 
 
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© Chris Dziadul, 2024
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