Is the Polish TV market a role model for others in Central and Eastern Europe?
On the evidence of this week’s PIKE conference in Jachranka, the answer is probably a qualified yes.
Take, for instance, the public broadcaster TVP. Despite being under serious financial pressure, as are indeed its counterparts throughout the region, it has steamed ahead with the development of a hybrid platform on which it shortly plans to offer VOD services.
On the other hand, Poland’s transition to digital broadcasting, though now in its latter stages, been a long and convoluted affair and is still far from plain sailing.
In one presentation, we learned from the regulator KRRiT that a tender for four frequencies on the country’s first multiplex, three of which are to be vacated by the public broadcaster TVP, will be held by the end of this year. However, that presupposes amendments to existing legislation necessary for the tender to go ahead are enacted beforehand – something that the KRRiT in fact believes will happen later this month.
The KRRiT refused to confirm or deny that one of those frequencies has already been promised to the religious/cultural channel TV Trwam, whose initial failure to secure a digital licence has caused a public outcry among more traditional sections of the population.
Nor was there any confirmation that TVP, which has the entire third multiplex reserved for its channels, has any intention of taking part in tender.
However, one thing we did learn, from no less than Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, is that Polsat has no intention of doing so.
Polsat already has a presence on the second multiplex through the channels Polsat and Polsat Sport News. Furthermore, as Solorz-Zak pointed out, its involvement in the DTT sector also extends to the production of receivers.
However, the company, or more specifically Cyfrowy Polsat, has bigger fish to fry. It has, for instance, clearly put a lot of effort into the recent launch of its mobile TV service and it is quite likely to succeed.
There was a considerable amount of debate on how the digital dividend in Poland should be used, as well as criticism of plans by the regulator to change the target coverage of DTT services – from 95% of the population to 95% of communities – that were deemed by leading broadcasters to be unrealistic.
And what of the cable industry? Jerzy Straszewski, the president of the national association PIKE, spoke of the consolidation that is taking place in it both from a capital and technological perspective. He also revealed his concerns about the challenge posed by DTT and increased regulation.
Given the impressive roll out of new TV services – there are, for instance, 50 Polish language HD channels now available to viewers, while HbbTV is already up and running thanks to TVP – the TV market in Poland is certainly one to keep a close eye on.
Despite the confusion still surrounding some aspects of the digitisation process, it will continue to be one of the region’s pace setters for the foreseeable future.