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By | December 13, 2000

      Ukraine has officially announced that it will launch a digital DTH platform in mid 2001. Speaking exclusively to Interspace, Olexander Zinchenko from the Supreme Council of Ukraine revealed that the service will be operated by the national commercial broadcaster Inter (which has close links with Russia’s ORT) and probably “for at least the first two years” be only distributed satellite-to-cable.

      He added that the service, which is to be made available on the largest cable networks in several towns including L’vov, Char’kov and the capital, Kiev, will initially offer eight channels. This figure will eventually rise to 16, with programmes being broadcast in both Ukrainian and Russian.

      Although Zinchenko was unwilling to reveal the cost of the venture, he believed it would eventually look for foreign backers. Its subscribers – initially expected to number around 800,000 but rise to over 1 million “within a couple of months”- will be required to pay in the region of E1.25-5.00 a month for the service.

      Zinchenko was keen to emphasise that Inter’s digital platform would try to model itself on similar services – specifically UPC’s Wizja TV and UPC Direct – already available in other parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

      Equally importantly, the platform would boost attempts to bring order to a still largely unregulated cable industry. According to Zinchenko , only 64 operators in Ukraine are currently licensed, with the remaining 312 effectively working outside the law.

      The launch of a digital platform in Ukraine has been on the cards for some time, with Poland’s Polsat rumoured to be one of the parties interested in operating such a service. Serguei Osadchy, Zone Vision’s Kiev-based cable and satellite manager, told Interspace that the broadcast/distribution company has already held talks with Intertel (a subsidiary of Inter) about the provision of programming for such a service.

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