Chris Dziadul reviews our first four years
Much has happened in Central and Eastern Europe since our publication, which today celebrates its 200th issue, launched almost four years ago.
The two enlargements of the EU in May 2004 and January 2007 have brought 10 of the region’s countries, with a combined population of almost 100 million, into the mainstream of European political, economic and social life. They have also benefited most of its other nations, and indeed the European continent as a whole.
Nowhere has this been truer than in the TV industry, which has been transformed beyond all recognition. The last four years has seen completely new distribution sectors spring up and others expand rapidly. IPTV, for instance, was all but unheard of in the region but is now a reality in many countries, while DTH is commonplace, with one market (Romania) having an unprecedented five platforms.
Elsewhere, consolidation has – as probably would have been expected – continued apace in the cable industry. On the other hand, the rollout of digital cable services has not happened as quickly as many would have wished.
DTT, too, has been something of a disappointment, with few countries, other than perhaps Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, having made any tangible progress beyond undertaking trials.
Perhaps the most promising development, and one that probably holds the key to the future, has been the increased interest in the region shown by outside investors. CME, which was still reeling from the loss of Czech TV Nova four years ago, is once more a force to be reckoned with in CEE, and SBS Broadcasting, recently acquired by ProSeibenSat.1, could follow suit. MTG has meanwhile expanded well beyond its ‘core’ regional markets of Russia and the Baltic Republics, and both RTL and News Corp. are also becoming players to be reckoned with.
Predicting what will happen in the region over the next 200 issues of Broadband TV News, Central and East Europe is, of course, impossible. However, we can with some degree of confidence expect to see IPTV become increasingly popular, DTT to finally take off, DVB-H services to appear in a number of countries and more consolidation in not only cable but also the DTH sector. HDTV, VOD, PVR and other ‘new generation’ services will also become the norm, even in markets where today they are not present.
The next 200 issues are certainly well worth looking forward to.