- UPC’s Polish digital DTH platform Wizja TV has started transmitting Telewizja Polska’s (TVP’s) two national channels TVP1 and TVP2. Although the move has been criticised by TVP – which was until only last week engaged in carriage talks with Wizja TV – it is powerless to act as Wizja TV broadcasts from abroad into Poland. Recently, however, it submitted a motion about the illegal transmission of its programmes on the Polsat digital platform (Polsat 2 Cyfrowy) to the prosecutor’s office.
- The Moscow Arbitration Court of Appeals has ordered the liquidation of the Media-Most media group, according to reports issued by the Russian news agency Interfax on May 29. The ruling was made in an appeal filed by the Tax Ministry to overturn an April court decision against the tax inspectorate’s petition to liquidate Media-Most. Although Interfax said “under the court ruling, the founders of the company will be responsible for liquidating it”, lawyers for the group told reporters they would appeal against this ruling. Additionally, the Moscow committee for municipal loans and share market development (Moskomzaim) filed a lawsuit with the Arbitration Court on May 28 seeking to recover the debt on unpaid promissory notes of the Media-Most holding.
- Italy’s national news agency Ansa and pay-TV operator Stream have agreed to launch a free-to-air TV channel aimed at Italian expatriates. The yet-to-be named channel will mainly be dedicated to news and current affairs but also air sports programming (primarily football) and reports on events taking place locally and nationally. Expatriates will in addition be offered thematic programmes dedicated to cooking, fashion and Italian culture and traditions. Stream has meanwhile added the Italian version of Home Shopping Europe in its pay-TV package, offering subscribers – using the proprietary Italtel OpenTV box – an interactive interface for buying products via their remote control.
- Reports are emerging that China is toughening its stance on DTH transmissions, with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) ordering all cable networks to be unified under provincial and municipal television broadcasting operations before the end of June. According to industry sources, no cable networks – including those with local capital investments – would be exempted from the move, which is apparently designed to curb their enthusiasm for independence. The capital invested in networks by local businessmen or residents would be turned into shares of the merged television broadcasting companies, but SARFT would own controlling stakes in all the networks. Beijing is also apparently setting up a Central Broadcasting and Television Network, which will have a leading role in managing China’s broadcasting industry.
- The German media group Viva Media has acquired a 5 per cent stake in the Italian commercial channel Rete A, with the option of taking a further 55 per cent from the founder and president Albero Peruzzo by October. Although the two sides did not disclose any price details, industry experts estimate that Rete A is worth E90-110 million, suggesting Viva’s stake should have cost it around E4-6 million. Rete A began broadcasting an Italian version of Viva’s music channel on May 1 after it cancelled its deal with MTV due to differences in strategic orientation. Rete A’s programmes can be received by 30 million viewers, or 75 per cent of Italy’s population. After Viva’s entry, Rete A will be managed by Asta Baumoller in conjunction with Alfredo Peruzzo, and the two partners are forecasting advertising revenues of between E31-41 million for the first year.
- The Lebanese state-owned television station Tele-Liban returned to active programming on May 24. Barring its live relays of the Pope’s visit to Syria on May 5-8, the service was dark from March 1 to May 23, with only a still picture with Lebanon’s national flag being displayed. The service is distributed digitally on Arabsat 2A at 26 degrees East.
- According to local reports, Space Time Network (STN) is preparing to launch a satellite TV channel named Channel Nepal from outside the country. Officials from Nepal’s first private sector satellite TV channel are nevertheless reluctant to disclose from where they would uplink transmissions, although Bangkok is said to be one option. STN had planned to start what would be the country’s first private satellite TV channel on April 14, but this may be delayed following last weeks royal assassination.