Ukraine is a market very much in a state of transition, with the news coming out of it increasingly interesting.
Take, for instance, the issue of piracy, which many would agree is a huge problem in the country. This week we have learnt that both the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting and cable and DTH platforms have decided to act against unlicensed companies providing pay-TV services, in the case of the regulator by reporting them to the police and seeking changes in legislation.
How effective this may all be in the end is anyone’s guess. However, it sends out a clear message that there is an intention – at least among some parties – to address the problem.
If locally published statistics are to be believed, around 25% of Ukrainians watching pay-TV opt for services provided by unlicensed companies. The actual figure is probably much higher.
Also this week we have learnt of a copyright dispute that has hit Viasat, the operator of Ukraine’s leading DTH platform. It involves ARMA-Ukraine, a local collective rights management organisation, which has apparently turned to the authorities and demanded that action be taken against the MTG company for not paying royalties over the last four years.
Although these amount to only just under €270,000, they somewhat controversially relate to content shown on must-carry as well as pay channels. It would perhaps not be so much of a problem were it not for the fact that there are now some 30 of the former in the country.
All this comes against the backdrop of some genuinely positive developments in Ukraine’s TV industry. For instance, DTT services are now up and running in the country thanks to the activities of the platform operator Zeonbud, while Volia, the country’s leading cable operator, seems to go from strength to strength, both by expanding through the acquisition of other players – just this week it concluded a deal to buy one called Odek – and launching advanced services such as DOCSIS 3.0-based internet access and HD channels.
Following a shaky start that saw the closure of no fewer than two DTH platforms, Ukraine’s DTH market is also finally starting to find its feet. Viasat Ukraine and Xtra are both now well established and the market will probably be joined by another service – Lybid TV, headed by a former president of the leading Russian DTH platform Tricolor TV – next month.
All in all, these are eventful times in Ukraine and more interesting developments can be expected in the near future.