Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) has reportedly given the go-ahead for United Group’s Vivacom to take over Bulsatcom. Although there is as yet no official confirmation of the decision, it is expected to be appealed against by A1 Bulgaria and Yettel Bulgaria. CPC has also hit back at accusations by Kiril Petkov of the “We continue to change” party that it does not have the legitimacy to adopt such a decision before the election of new members by the National Assembly. If the transaction goes ahead, it will create an entity accounting for 60% of pay-TV subscribers in Bulgaria.
Baltic agreement for Viaplay and TV3 Group
Viaplay and TV3 Group have signed an agreement covering Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Starting February 1, Viaplay's full live sports portfolio in the Baltic region is being sublicensed to TV3 Group's streaming service Go3, with direct Viaplay subscribers in the three countries to be transferred to Go3 during March. On December 1 2023, Viaplay Group announced its intention to exit the Baltic markets by summer 2025.
Streaming services take off in Latvia
One in three (33%) Latvians watched streaming services at least once a week in 2023. According to the regulator NEPLP, quoting research undertaken jointly with Civitta Latvija, this was 27pp more than the previous year. Of those consuming streaming services, 43% opted for the Go3 platform, which is operated by AS TV Play Baltic, like All Media part of the Lithuanian telco Bite Group. The next most popular were Netflix (29%) and Tet TV+ (18%). In terms of actual market share, Go3 claimed 14%, with Netflix and Tet TV+ accounting for 9% and 6% respectively.
New role for Michal Buszko
Michal Buszko has been appointed the media agencies & advertisers commercial leader, Central and Eastern Europe, at Nielsen. He has been at Nielsen since August 2019, prior to which he held positions at IAB Polska, Wavemaker and MediaCom.
Switch off for Slovenian DTT multiplex
The Slovenian DVB-T Multiplex C was switched off this week (Thursday, February 1) following a request by the public broadcaster RTV Slovenije to the regulator AKOS. The multiplex most recently carried only the FTA channels Nova 24 TV and Golica TV following the withdrawal of pay-TV channels.
Vectra facing contract investigation
The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has questioned the unilateral changes the country’s leading cable operator Vectra makes to the contracts with its customers related to the rate of inflation. If the allegations are confirmed, Vectra could be fined up to 10% of its turnover. The UOKiK also says it is conducting exploratory proceedings against the operators Orange Polska., P4, T-Mobile Polska and Multimedia Polska. The latter is owned by Vectra.
New doc division for National Media Group
Russia’s National Media Group (NMG) has created a separate division for the production of documentaries. Known as NMG DOK, it plans to release 100 titles this year. NMG is a leading player in Russia’s media industry. Its assets include the TV channels Ren TV, Kanal 5, CTC and the streaming service Wink.
Jim Phillipoff to head Svoboda Satellite project
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has announced that Jim Phillipoff will head the new Svoboda Satellite project, which aims to broadcast independent and pluralistic audio and video content to Russian speakers across the world via satellite. The project originates from a partnership between RSF and the Denis Diderot committee, founded by Jim Phillipoff and Dr. Andre Lange. Phillipoff has more than 20 years’ experience building and managing media networks in Europe, including the former Soviet states. He was founder and CEO of the Ukrainian DTH platform Xtra TV, CEO of Kyiv Post Media and most recently director of partnerships at Irdeto.
Bond issue for United Group
United Group and its parent company Summer BidCo have issued bonds amounting to €1.73 billion. They will be used for the early repayment of the existing secured bonds due in 2026 and 2029, the existing Pay-If-You-Can PIK bonds due in 2025, as well as for the repayment of the revolving credit line (RFC). United Group is a leading provider of telecommunications and media services in South-Eastern Europe.
Hungarians opt for multiplay
The number of Hungarians choosing single play telco packages fell sharply between Q3 2019 and Q2 last year. According to the regulator NMHH, in the case of TV it shrunk by 244,000 from nearly a million over the period in question. All told, the proportion opting for single play packages decreased from 35% to 28%. Yet despite this, not all multiplay packages are popular. Mobile has proved to be a driver, as well as the internet+TV combination. In addition to mobile, the number of people ordering some kind of fixed service increased by around a third, from 588,000 to 945,000. The number opting for internet+TV rose from 312,000 to 513,000.
inext partners in Kyrgyzstan
Ukraine’s inext has entered into a partnership with SkyNet, a leading telco operator in Kyrgyzstan. Like a number of inext’s existing partners, SkyNet was offered a full branding of set-top boxes, which includes the client’s logo on then box itself, as well as on the box, remote control and user manual. inext also developed a brand application for the client. inext specialises in software development and production of Android set-top boxes and media players for B2B and B2C clients.