Why is most of Central and Eastern Europe still lagging behind the West in the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting?
There is no straightforward answer. At first, the failures of such operations as the UK’s On Digital and Spain’s Quiero probably discouraged a number of countries in CEE. The prevailing attitude was one of wait and see, preferring to learn from others’ mistakes rather than one’s own.
However, the real obstacle was undoubtedly the lack of a coherent strategy for the transition to digital broadcasting. It is only in the last 12-18 months that this has finally been resolved in most, though by no means all, countries.
The Czech Republic can be held up as a good example of a market that went through a multitude of problems, some peculiar to itself, before largely getting it right in the digitalisation process. Like several other leading CEE countries, it embarked on DTT trials in the early 2000s, undertaken by companies (CDG, Radiokomunikace and Telefónica) that would eventually become licensed multiplex operators.
However, it also managed to entangle itself in a digital licence award dispute that took well over a year to resolve. Since then, it has been a case of ‘full steam ahead’, with the three leading broadcasters CT, TV Nova and Prima TV all playing their part.
The transition to digital broadcasting is being undertaken on a region-by-region basis, and later this month Prague will complete the process.
The most impressive statistics to be coming out of the country at present pertain to the already high take up of not only DTT but digital TV services in general, as well as the rapid growth in the number of new digital channels.
All this and much more will be discussed at the next Broadband TV News/Telenor Business Breakfast. Taking all forms of digital broadcasting in the Czech Republic as its theme, it will be held in Prague on Tuesday, May 19. Further details will appear shortly.