Let the music play

By Chris Dziadul
November 27, 2009 08.33 UK

Following a long delay, the long-awaited Czech and Slovak version of the music channel MTV will finally make its debut on November 29.

Its appearance will undoubtedly be welcome in two of the regionís most rapidly changing markets. It will also provide a welcome boost to its operator TV Nova, which like other regional broadcasters in the CME stable has endured a difficult year due to the global economic crisis and resulting slump in ad spend.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia will be two of the last major markets in CEE to receive their own versions of the music channel, with countries such as Poland and Russia having enjoyed such services for over a decade.

There are certainly reasons for this delay. While initially it was deemed too expensive by international broadcasters such as MTV to localise their services for smaller markets, more recently it has been the global economic crisis itself that has held back the channelís launch.

Indeed, CME secured a licence from MTVNE to operate MTV in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in late 2008, and it had at one stage been expected the service would launch by the end of last year. More recently, it was reported this June that a dispute had erupted between MTVís owner Viacom and Time Warner, a shareholder in CME, threatening the channelís launch. Fortunately, these fears have proved to be unfounded.

TV Nova appears to be much better placed to make a success of a localised version of MTV than was Israelís Ananey Communications, which has just withdrawn from the Baltic Republics due to severe economic difficulties in all three countries.

However, in the Czech Republic MTV will enter a market already served by the music channel Ocko, one of the countryís longest established thematic services. It has argued that MTV, which it believes will be offered principally in paid cable and DTH packages, is unlikely to be profitable.

Competition between the two is likely to be intense.