Chris Dziadul reviews progress in Romania and Bulgaria.
With 2007 drawing to a close, now is perhaps a good time to look at Romania and Bulgaria’s first year of EU membership and what impact – if any – it has had on their respective television industries.
While there may not have been many dramatic changes over the past 12 months, few can doubt that that the overall effect has been positive. If anything, it has reinforced the positive trends already present in both countries.
In Romania, for instance, December 1 marks the 12th anniversary of the leading broadcaster Pro TV. Launched by CME and local partners in what was already a competitive marketplace, it is today, when combined with its sister services Acasa, Pro Cinema, Pro TV International and Sport.ro, worth an impressive $1 billion (€676,1 million). As one local business publication proudly points out, this represents a 50-fold increase on CME’s initial investment of $20 million.
Not that Pro TV is the only success story. Antena 1made its debut even earlier and is also part of a growing company (the Intact Media Group – IMG) that operates four other channels and plans to launch several more next year.
Elsewhere, Romania’s cable industry, one of the largest in CEE, certainly needs no introduction, while its DTH sector holds the distinction of having no fewer than five platforms. What is more, the local telecommunications company RCS/RDS, besides having interests in both, also has a presence in five other markets in the region through its DTH operation Digi TV and (in the case of Slovakia) also a cable network.
Bulgaria, too, continues to make progress on a broad range of fronts. Its terrestrial market includes two successful national commercial stations – News Corp.-owned bTV and Antenna’s Nova TV – while consolidation has recently begun to gather momentum in the cable industry, which is now rolling out digital TV services. Two DTH platforms – ITV Partner and Bulsatcom – have both been operational for around three years.
While there have also undoubtedly been some worrying developments in both countries – the continual ineffectiveness of the Bulgarian regulator CRC, criticised by the European Commission earlier this week, being one case in point – there is more good than bad to report. And as foreign investment grows, so will their TV industries.