All posts by Chris Dziadul

Vodafone holds steady in Europe

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Vodafone’s TV customer base in Germany stood at 7.7 million as of June 30 and was unchanged on three months earlier.

At the same time, its new ‘GogaKombi’ convergence offer continued to gain momentum, adding 90,000 households in the quarter ending June 20. In total, it had 0.5 million converged consumer households in Germany. Vodafone also notes that it gained 100,000 broadband households in the quarter, of which 65,000 were on cable and the remainder on DSL.

Meanwhile, in Spain Vodafone’s TV customer base declined by 24,000 in the quarter due to a temporary delay in the capability to offer TV to new households in its wholesale footprint following a new agreement with the incumbent; higher disconnections following the end of the football season; and its greater focus on premium packages.

Vodafone One, the company’s fully integrated fixed, mobile and TV service, reached 2.4 million households at the end of the period, up 538,000 year-on-year and 63,000 during the quarter. Convergent ARPA continued to grow steadily and churn rates are around half the level of households who take a single product.

Vodafone notes that in Europe 3.8 million of its broadband households are now converged (4.4 million including VodafoneZiggo), having added 0.7 million year- on-year, led by Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Its average revenue per account (‘ARPA’) has grown steadily and churn rates are roughly half the level of households who take a single product. The company has 9.6 million TV households in Europe (13.5 million including VodafoneZiggo), which is broadly stable year-on-year.

Vodafone had group revenues of €11,474 million in the quarter ending June 30, or 3.3% less than the reported figure a year earlier. In Europe, they amounted to €8,299 million (-4.8%).

Commenting on the results, Vittorio Colao, group chief executive, said: “We have made a good start to the year in Europe, where our commercial momentum remains robust, and growth accelerated across AMAP. Although competition in India remains intense, service revenues stabilised compared with the prior quarter. Our substantial investments in network leadership, an excellent customer experience and even greater ‘more-for-more’ propositions for customers are enabling us to monetise strong demand for mobile data. We are gaining profitable market share in broadband, and a growing proportion of our customers now take our fully converged offers. Our world-leading Internet of Things platform contributed to another quarter of solid growth in Enterprise. In addition, we are executing our ‘Fit for Growth’ cost efficiency programme in line with our plans. Overall, this performance gives us confidence in reiterating our outlook for the year.”

RRTV awards AMC licences, fines Nova

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The Czech National Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV) has awarded four licences to AMC Networks Central Europe.

Three, for Sundance TV PE (Pan-European), Sundance TV FR (France) and AMC Channel RU (Russia), are satellite licences and the fourth, for the new channel Sport4 Chechia and Slovakia, is for special distribution systems.

Separately, RRTV has fined the Czech national commercial broadcaster TV Nova a total of CZK800,000 (€30,687) for two breaches of Act No 23 governing product placement. Both were committed in late 2016.

Chris Dziadul Reports: Discovery/Scripps – a Polish perspective

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Discovery Communications’ acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive could have far-reaching implications for the TV industry in Poland.

Should a deal be reached – talks between the two parties are still ongoing – it would create a truly powerful player in the Polish market, where Scripps already owns TVN, and arguably change its entire dynamics.

Earlier this week, the Polish press interviewed a number of industry players to get their views on the possible effects of such a transaction. Marek Sowa, a media expert and former head of UPC Polska and Agora, said that it would have implications for broadcasters such as Polsat and TVP, as well as strengthen the negotiating position of Discovery/Scripps with content providers. It would also make the entire market more resilient to political pressures.

Witold Grabos, a former vice chairman of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), meanwhile argued that the Polish market would find itself in trouble, given the strength of Discovery in such areas as rights to the Olympics.

On the other hand, Dariusz Dabski, the president of TV Puls, said that the future of the TV market in Poland would ultimately be determined by new legislation currently being prepared by the government.

Another perspective was provided by Piotr Bienko, the head of the sales house Codemedia, who pointed out that the two companies already cooperate in Poland, with TVN selling airtime for Discovery channels.

In my view, these are all relevant arguments. What should really be borne in mind is that Poland currently finds itself in a difficult situation politically and is in many respects a divided nation. The TV industry reflects those divisions, with TVP toeing a pro-government line and TVP and Polsat voicing their opposition to it.

Earlier this year, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, spoke about the need to introduce regulatory controls in the media. These would in all likelihood include a limit on the level of foreign ownership of commercial broadcasters such as TVN.

However, this ‘repolonisation of the Polish media’, as it has been described, would arguably not prevent Discovery/Scripps from being a hugely important player.