RTL and Nova challenge HRT plans

Croatia’s RTL Televizija and Nova TV have decided to join forces to prevent their rival HRT from launching a sports channel (HRT 4) on February 2, 2009 (HRT 3) and a news channel (HRT 4) sometime in next year.

The launch of two specialised DTT channels, announced by Croatian public broadcaster HRT, is illegal and will threaten the development of the TV market in Croatia, accotrding to representatives of RTL Televizija and Nova TV, speaking at a joint press conference in Zagreb. RTL and Nova TV argue that there are no legal provisions for granting digital TV concessions, especially without a public tender.

Under the current provisions, HRT is only allowed to run digital satellite channels, but not terrestrial ones.

The president of the Board of RTL Televizija, Christoph Mainusch, and the general director of Nova TV, Drazen Mavric, pointed out that HRT’s plans represent an infringement of both Croatian and European regulations on state subsidies.

They also warned that the new channels will jeopardise the existence of the commercial broadcasters that depend on advertising, while HRT is financed both by the TV licence fee and advertising.

The launch of HRT 3, which will air 70% sports and 30% music, will cost an estimated €2.7 million and the channel will have an annual budget of €13.7 million. From day one, it should be available to more than 80% of Croatian households via DTT, digital satellite, cable and IPTV.