It’s been an extraordinary 18 months for the Digi TV satellite platform in the Czech Republic.
In March 2015, as part of the general retrenchment of Romania’s RCS&RDS in Central and Eastern Europe, it was announced that Czech Digi TV was to be sold to Lama Energy Group. Up until that stage, Digi TV had only been a peripheral player in what was – and still is – one of the region’s most competitive DTH markets.
Permission for the take-over by the Czech utility company, which was owned by the entrepreneur Petr Lamich, was granted in only a fortnight by the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (UOHS). Lama Energy Group then set about transforming Digi TV into a completely new service, renamed Nová Digi TV and re-launched in October last year.
What was particularly significant about this was that the modernisation, which cost €11 million, was undertaken in partnership with Slovak Telekom, which had earlier acquired the Digi TV operation in Slovakia.
The Slovak incumbent supplied an end-to-end solution that allowed Nová Digi TV to utilize the advanced features of the DTH platform Digi Slovakia and Slovak Telekom while maintaining its programming and marketing independence.
Subscribers to the ‘old’ Czech Digi TV were gradually migrated to Nová Digi TV, with the process being completed in June this year. What they found was a much more sophisticated service that offered almost twice as many channels (100, 17 of which were in HD), better transmission quality and advance (Kaon) set-top boxes or CA modules.
It also included exclusive coverage of the Premier League and Spain’s La Liga, along with fixed internet access of up to 40Mbps.
Although Nová Digi TV is unlikely to become the leading DTH platform in the Czech Republic anytime soon – M7 Group’s Skylink is in an extremely strong position – it is probably making an impact.
This will have been amplified at the beginning of the month, when its operator Digi CZ launched a parallel internet TV service named Digi2Go.
Interestingly, Lama Energy Group and itself, cable operator formerly known as Self Servis, also became minority shareholders in 4Net. TV Solutions, a leading developer of software solutions for internet TV.
All these mark out Lama Energy Group as a company to keep a close eye on as it deepens its involvement in the Czech TV industry.