The transition to digital broadcasting is finally beginning to take shape in Russia and Poland, the two largest TV markets in CEE.
Although it was long assumed that ASO would happen in Russia much later than in most other countries in the region, there was some uncertainty over the date. Now, speaking publicly, Viktor Pinchuk, the deputy DG of the Russian Television and Broadcasting Network (RTRS), has said that the transition will take place gradually from 2014-17, with simulcasting being kept to a minimum.
Significantly, he added that there would also be a delay in the switch from DVB-T to DVB-T2, despite the country having committed to the latter.
With the first multiplex already up and running and set to reach nearly three-quarters of the population by the end of the year, attention has now switched to what will be the country’s second multiplex. Earlier this week the federal executive authority Roskomnadzor announced a tender for what will eventually be 10 channels carried by the multiplex.
There is clearly some concern about the ease of reception of DTT services and Viktor Pinchuk expressed the view that low-cost receivers would gradually become widely available in the country.
Meanwhile in Poland, there was the surprise news earlier this that despite widespread awareness of digitisation – the target completion date is July 31, 2013 – only 20% of homes receiving terrestrial TV services have digital reception equipment.
This is all the more worrying, given that ASO will be undertaken on a region-by-region basis, with the first to make the switch being in the west of the country on November 7.
Even so, Poland has come a long way in the last couple of years and is now preparing for what will hopefully be one of the last hurdles – a tender for four frequencies on the first multiplex – before it completes the transition.
Yet there are still many question marks – and indeed concerns – about the process, even at this late stage. One clearly voiced by a number of leading broadcasters at the PIKE conference a couple of weeks ago are proposals by the regulator UKE for DTT coverage targets – 95% of all communities, rather than the population as a whole – that they regard as unrealistic.
These will hopefully be overcome, and by this time next year Poland will no longer have analogue terrestrial and Russia will be much further down the digital terrestrial road than it is at present.