Chris Dziadul reviews the Levira conference
This week has seen the TDF-backed Estonian transmission company Levira hold its second digital broadcasting conference in Tallinn. Bringing together speakers from several West European countries and a few from Estonia itself, along with an audience composed mostly of technology experts from throughout CEE, it looked at – amongst other things – the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in Europe as a whole.
In truth, however, the discussion was focused mostly on Western Europe and served to highlight just how far much of CEE still has to go. While Finland will become a ‘digital-only’ country like The Netherlands and Luxembourg by switching off its analogue transmitters at the end of this month, most of CEE still appears light years away from such a scenario. Indeed, only Estonia, Lithuania – – and to a lesser degree the Czech Republic have so far made what can be described as DTT platform launches, while in an important market like Romania all talk about the transition to digital broadcasting is currently being swept under the carpet.
The 2012 deadline favoured by the EU for the transition will clearly not be met by some CEE countries, although only two to date (Poland, 2014 and Lithuania, 2015) have been bold enough to admit as much. Yet the period of time to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting is in itself not a good measure of anything, as more than one speaker at the Levira conference pointed out. The UK, for instance, is taking 14 years and Norway only two, though both have set about the task in a well-organised manner.
In summarising the DTT status in CEE, Daniel Sauvet-Goichon, the chairman of DigiTAG, referred to a lack of necessary legislative framework, strong opposition from commercial broadcasters and funding issues for pubic service broadcasters. All these factors are to a large degree true, but perhaps were more so a year or two ago then they are today.
In Poland, for instance Polsat and TVN have been working together in the POT consortium to launch a DTT platform for some time, while countries such as Hungary and Slovakia have recently passed legislation paving the way for the transition to digital broadcasting. However, as almost everyone will probably admit, much still need to be done in the region as a whole.
A full report on the conference will appear in the next issue of New Television Insider. Please go to : www.newtelevisioninsider.com