Furthermore, telcos in Croatia are by law prevented from launching their own TV channels. In a wide-ranging panel discussion at NEM on regulation, even Mario Weber, the director of the Croatian regulator HAKOM, conceded there is a need for a level playing field between OTT players and telcos.
Yet while Nikola Francetic, head of group content, media and broadcasting, Telekom Austria Group, put this at the top of his wish list, he also made the general point that that regulations in Croatia are laxer than those in Macedonia, another market the group is present in. He was specifically referring to rules that prevent telcos in Croatia from becoming media players by, for instance, launching their own TV channels.
Francetic argued that he was not sure if it made a big difference who produced channels: the issue was not one of ownership but differentiating content and exclusivity.
Simon Slonjsak, head of smart living, Telekom Slovenije, agreed with Francetic. Furthermore, when it came to a threat the industry should look to such players as Google and its ownership of YouTube.
Laima Zivatkauskaite, the VP of Init, the third largest pay-TV operator in Lithuania, said that the company generally has a good relationship with the regulatory authority despite being strictly regulated. As in other CEE markets, there is a similar problem with OTT services in Lithuania.
She added that only government owned companies in Lithuania cannot own TV channels. The channel operated by Init is distributed by most other operators in the country with the exception of Telia and Cgates, its main competitors.