Small German TV channels doomed

Jörn Krieger

PROdigitalTV, the German industry association of independent thematic channels, sees hardly any prospects for the success of small digital TV channels under current market conditions.

Programmes are being screened with almost no audience, complained Carl A. Claussen, chairman of the association and managing director of thematic channel Tier.TV (Animal.TV), during PROdigitalTV’s latest assembly in Hamburg. Claussen blamed this on the still “poor technical reach” for digital television in Germany as well as the “immensely high distribution costs” via cable and satellite which can’t be born by small, independent channels. He also holds the regulatory authorities responsible for the calamity, criticising their failure to establish equal opportunities for all market players.

Additionally, Claussen believes there is a lack of targeted marketing of digital television towards end consumers and that the dearth of set-top-box standards has a “catastrophic” effect on viewers’ ability to find digital TV channels. “There is no room for independent operators of digital thematic channels under these conditions,” criticised Claussen. “Medium-sized media corporations are blighted, jobs lost or not even created.”

Thomas Fuchs, director of the media authority of federal states Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, sees the cable operators’ marketing strategies, which leave much room for improvement, as a reason for sluggish digitalisation in Germany. “Viewers should know that digital television doesn’t only stand for pay-TV,” said Fuchs.

The experts were agreed that digitalisation in Germany could only be successfully achieved with the joint strength of all players.