Why is digitalisation proving to be such a long-winded process in some of CEE’s core markets?
We have just seen the launch of a new DTT platform in Hungary that many people, given the numerous difficulties it encountered, thought might never happen. Yet even as it finally went on air we were informed, by the operator Antenna Hungária itself, that it has precious little content to offer prospective subscribers. Distribution deals will, of course, be signed shortly, but the whole situation seems embarrassing.
Even so, Hungary does at least have a DTT platform up and running, while the Czech Republic, another core CEE market, is making significant progress in its region-by-region transition to digital broadcasting.
The country with egg on its chin is probably Poland, which, at least in theory, should have launched a DTT platform at least one or possibly two years ago.
The current situation was perhaps best summed up by reports in the local press earlier this week that said the country’s parliament (Sejm) had postponed a debate on digitalisation, preferring in its place to talk about the construction of motorways.
Those reports then went on to compare the situation in Poland unfavourably with that in (seemingly backward) Belarus, where around 40% of the country’s 10 million population can already receive DTT signals.
DTT will certainly happen in Poland, with the country’s first multiplex still likely to be launched in sometime early next year. However, a 2012 ASO date is looking increasingly unlikely, with 2014 more realistic and – dare we say it – the ‘drop-dead’ deadline one year later now a possibility.
The crux of the problem, and one that the local press has clearly identified, is that there are too many chiefs and too few Indians in the whole digitalisation process. The two main regulators – the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) and National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) have tried to work together but at times held very different views as how to proceed.
All in all, 2009 is likely to prove a crucial year for digitalisation in Poland.