Slowly but surely, Serbia is being transformed into one of the most dynamic TV markets in the Balkan region.
Such a scenario is arguably long overdue. While fellow former Yugoslav states like Slovenia and Croatia have steamrollered ahead in recent years, Serbia seems to have – at least until recently – been stuck in the broadcasting slow lane. It has certainly lacked the appeal to foreign investors enjoyed by fellow Balkan countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, in part due to an image problem but also because it is not yet a EU member.
The news that RTL is about to enter Serbia by acquiring a 49% stake in TV Avala should come as no surprise. The broadcaster has been eyeing the market for some time, having made an unsuccessful bid for a national TV licence in 2006, and is generally keen to expand its portfolio of stations in CEE.
News Corp, on the other hand, secured such a licence but has since decided to sell its stake in Fox Televizija, the station it helped to launch. However, its decision to exit the Serbian market should not be seen as a vote of no confidence, it being part of an overall regional strategy.
Greece’s OTE is meanwhile present in Serbia through a 20% stake it holds in the incumbent telco Telekom Srbija. It has recently been reported that Deutsche Telekom, itself a shareholder in OTE, may also be about to buy a 15% stake in Telekom Srbija.
Though not yet a player in the broadcast industry, Telekom Srbija will launch what will be Serbia’s first IPTV operation at the beginning of next month.
Serbia already has a large non-terrestrial sector, with Serbia Broadband (SBB) and Romanian-backed Digi Sat (Digi TV) key players. Importantly, the former, through its DTH platform Total TV, also has a presence in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.
All these and many other issues will be explored at the forthcoming Belgrade Business Breakfast, organised jointly by Broadband TV News and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting and due to take place in the Serbian capital on November 25. It will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about one of Balkan region’s most dynamic markets and its prospects for the future.
For further details, and to register for free entrance, readers should go to: www.broadbandtvnews.com/belgrade