Slow track DTT

It’s hard to believe that one of the most dynamic TV markets in Central and Eastern Europe is making such a pig’s ear of its transition to digital broadcasting.

While most countries are progressing steadily and three – Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia – will have completed the process this year – Poland has struggled to even launch a DTT platform. Indeed, even Romania and Bulgaria, which were until recently considered laggards in digitisation, should have full operations up and running within a matter of months.

Following years of wrangling, Poland did in fact launch its first multiplex in September last year. However, EmiTel, a wholly owned subsidiary of the incumbent telco TPSA, has only been able to operate it on a temporary basis in a limited number of locations and it is considered to be a ‘trial’ service.

The last 10 months has seen considerable debate about the make-up of what will eventually be Poland’s first three multiplexes. This has fortunately now ended and there is agreement, which is in itself a sign of real progress.

The roadblock is essentially over licensing conditions and has pitted the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) against the Government Legislation Centre. Annoyed by the latter’s refusal to accept the regulator’s proposal, the head of the KRRiT has threatened to write to the Prime Minister in protest.

No doubt a deal will eventually be reached, though there will certainly be more twists and turns before a full DTT service is finally up and running.

When it is, it will be interesting to see just how it fares in a market that has such highly developed cable and DTH sectors. The former, which is bracing itself for a period of consolidation, is dominated by four progressive and ambitious operators, while the latter is served by no fewer than five platforms. Together, they already provide services to around two thirds of Polish TV homes.