If the rumours I heard this week at the PIKE conference and exhibition turn out to be true, we could be about to witness some exceptional developments in Poland’s cable industry.
The first, and perhaps most eye-catching, is that Liberty Global’s UPC Polska will shortly be sold to T-Mobile. Indeed, some sources indicated to me that a deal may have already been done.
The second is that the competition authority (UOKiK) will approve the take-over of Multimedia Polska, the country’s third largest cable operator, by the second largest Vectra. However, it will come with strings attached, with Vectra then being required to sell on some of its newly-acquired assets to a third party.
The third, and in some ways most surprising, is that Vectra may then be acquired by Cyfrowy Polsat.
In the event of all these happening, we would see the Polish cable market transformed into one dominated by Deutsche Telekom and Cyfrowy Polsat-owned operators. Cyfrowy Polsat would also be a leading force in the wider electronic communications market, as would Discovery Communications, which of course now owns TVN, and the incumbent Orange Polska.
Away from speculation, here are some hard facts. There is clear dissatisfaction in the Polish cable industry, voiced by PIKE’s president Jerzy Straszewski, with the UOKiK and its inability to see the wider picture when making rulings about proposed take-overs.
Also, for the first time in many years, there were no high-level executives from Cyfrowy Polsat, including its founder and main owner Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, present at the event.
Along with this, there were some important announcements. These included the news that Paramount will launch its first-ever branded SVOD service in Central and Eastern Europe in Poland later this month.
We also learned that Discovery Polska is now producing content for the US market and that Netflix now has 500,000 paying customers in Poland.
However, it was the rumours that left a lasting impression. They may be just that, but should any prove true, unless you’re an industry executive very much in the know remember you read about them first in Broadband TV News!