Chris Dziadul looks at digital developments in the Czech Republic
Slowly but surely the Czech Republic is moving to digital broadcasting. And despite the difficulties it has encountered to date, the process is more advanced than in most other leading markets in CEE.
Earlier this week, the president gave his approval to changes in the law that should smooth the process even further. Crucially, they solve the issue of the six digital TV licences awarded and then withdrawn in controversial circumstances last year: the members of the ADT will finally be able to launch their services, and by the end of 2008 all should be up and running.
The Czech Republic is at present the only country in CEE with an all-digital region, Domazlice having switched off its analogue transmitters in late summer. Others will follow, though the October 2010 ASO target date may yet prove a little on the ambitious side.
It also already has DTT services up and running in several cities including Prague, Brno and Ostrava, receiving a mix of public and commercial channels distributed by multiplexes operated by Radiokomunikace and the Czech Digital Group (CDG). A third multiplex, operated by Telefónica O2, will eventually also come into service.
However, the real issue is to what degree newcomers such as the six members of the ADT can break into a market so dominated by the two commercial broadcasters TV Nova and Prima TV, as well as publicly owned Czech Television (CT). Speaking at the Broadband TV News/Telenor Business Breakfast in Prague earlier this week, Febio TV’s development manager Petr Sladecek pointed out that 75% of the population still only watch four channels, and TV Nova and Prima TV together account for 85% of TV ad spend.
Establishing a foothold in one of the least competitive markets in Europe will be no mean feat, and Febio TV’s aim to secure a 10% share looks ambitious. What is certain, however, is that competition in the Czech Republic will intensify greatly as its transition to digital broadcasting gathers pace.