Chris Dziadul analyses developments in Poland
Poland currently finds itself in the grip of election fever, with parliamentary elections scheduled for the second half of October.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the country’s media, or more specifically its future, has once again found itself under the spotlight. Rival parties are homing in on the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) and its perceived political bias, with one even calling for the body to be dismantled. There are also suggestions that receiver licence fees, used to fund the public broadcaster TVP, should be scrapped.
Yet one particular development, announced only yesterday (September 20), has suddenly overshadowed all this and could have really far-reaching implications for the country’s TV industry. In the presence of the Prime Minister, TVP, its radio counterpart Polskie Radio and the mobile company Polkomtel signed a Letter of Understanding (LOI) to work together on the transition to digital broadcasting.
In practice, this will, if followed through, see TVP and Polskie Radio introduce DTT, mobile TV and mobile radio on Polkomtel’s infrastructure. At the same time, the project will be backed by the government, which will allow for the reception of digital services through heavily subsidised (if not free) decoders.
The transition to digital broadcasting has until now been just as much a convoluted process in Poland as in most other Central and East European countries. Limited DTT trial services have been up and running for some time, though TVP’s unwillingness to work with the two national commercial stations Polsat and TVN – grouped in the POT consortium – has, along with legislative problems, held back the launch of a full DTT operation.
The possibility that TVP may now start one on its own dedicated multiplex has caused disquiet at both POT and the KRRiT, though the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) is understood to support the idea.
While there is, of course, no guarantee that the LOI will indeed lead to a full partnership between TVP, Polskie Radio and Polkomtel, it could be just the kick-start the market needs.