Although the global financial crisis is far from over, the TV industry in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is proving to be much more resilient than many of us may have until recently thought.
This summer, for instance, though still less than a month old, already looks like becoming one of the most eventful, especially in the area of new channel launches, in many a year.
In the last few days alone we have reported on the debut of what is Croatia’s first news channel (24sata TV) and a Czech service (R1) targeting mostly female viewers. Also in the pipeline are, amongst others, a new teleshopping channel (TV Market 24) in Poland.
At the same time, we have seen CS Link, one of the four DTH platforms in the Czech Republic, take out additional capacity on Astra to boost its channel line-up. Meanwhile Skylink, one of its rivals, continues to add HD channels to its offer.
And yet we should certainly not get carried away with these positive developments. The tough economic climate means that there will almost certainly be casualties along the way: this week we have already seen Poland’s ITI Group announce the scrapping of nTalk, one of its proprietary channels, and the music-oriented O.TV, a channel produced in partnership with Jurek Owsiak.
More worryingly, a dispute involving the distribution of channels between the Czech Republic and Slovakia has broken out. Triggered by a demand by Slovakia’s Mac TV for Czech cable operators to stop carrying its Joj-branded channels, it could have a damaging effect on the TV industries in both countries, which to date have had a high degree of synergy.
The demand for channels, be they locally produced or localised quality international services, will nevertheless continue to grow throughout the region as new platforms – now increasingly DTT and IPTV, rather than DTH – launch and the transition to digital broadcasting gathers pace.