Netflix may be planning an Australian launch next year, according to various local news reports.Netflix has declined to confirm the reports. According to The Australian newspaper, Netflix may have changed its mind on a launch in Australia because a significant number of people – about 20,000, according to the report – already bypass geo-blocking restrictions to subscribe to it and because of the high growth rates the online streaming service has experienced to date in European markets.Netflix has hitherto reportedly been reluctant to look at the Australian market because of inadequate internet infrastructure and concerns about its ability to deliver a competitive price point.Separately, Netflix is to bring a second season of its original series Lilyhammer exclusively to its subscribers in all territories in December.The series, developed by Rubicon TV and co-produced by Netflix for NRK/Netflix in association with Red Arrow International, will air from December 13.
EC VP Neelie KroesHungary’s new advertising tax is a politically motivated attempt to drive RTL out of the country’s market and is a threat to media freedom in the country, according to EC vice-president Neelie Kroes.In an outspoken blog post condemning the Hungarian government’s imposition of the law, which imposes a punitive tax rate on advertising on commercial broadcasters, Kroes said the measure “disproportionately affects one single media company, RTL”, which is the only company that would, according to its own calculations, face the highest rate of tax, resulting in significant losses and “putting in jeopardy their ability to operate”.Kroes said that the move is clearly politically motivated and designed to see off the only significant media outlet that does not follow the line of the ruling Fidesz party. “RTL is one of the few channels in Hungary not simply promoting a pro-Fidesz line; it is hard to see that the goal is anything other than to drive them out of Hungary. The Hungarian Government does not want a neutral, foreign-owned broadcaster in Hungary; it is using an unfair tax to wipe out democratic safeguards, and see off a perceived challenge to its power,” she said.Kroes said that the advertising law follows a pattern, citing the country’s 2010 media law, which gave a body “subject to political interference” huge powers over Hungarian media, “breaching the Hungarian constitution and EU law and jeopardising fundamental rights”.She said that undermining and silencing media freedom and debate “is an attack on Hungarian democracy”.Kroes said there is a need for Europeans to take action to ensure “a free and plural media” in Hungary and in countries including Bulgaria, Italy and the UK and commended a recent report on possible measures by a group chaired by former Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.
Dutch telco KPN had 2.024 million TV subscribers at the end of the third quarter, up 5.7% year-on-year.The telco had 1.516 million IPTV customers at the end of September, up 18% year-on-year. Other TV customers, including its declining Digitenne digital-terrestrial base, numbered 508,000, down 20%.Fixed triple-play customers numbered 1.316 million at the end of the quarter, up 13%, representing 48% of the subscriber base. Revenue generating units per customer numbered 2.24 and ARPU amounted to €44. However TV revenues amounted to €57 million, down 5%.KPN said it had seen strong growth in consumer fixed-mobile bundles, with 84,000 net additions in the third quarter, and a return to growth in broadband.
German pay TV operator Sky Deutschland has tapped satellite operator SES’s media services arm SES Platform Services to deliver its new Sky Online OTT service.Sky Online allows Sky viewers to watch a range of channels over the web and via apps. The service initially comprises two packages with non-linear content and 12 linear channels.SES Platform Services will manage Sky Online’s linear offering, and will be responsible for encoding, packaging and monitoring the channels and implementing parental control measures.“Sky Deutschland is currently the most dynamic media company in Europe and has emphasised its strength in innovation by launching Sky Online,” said Sophie Lersch, chief sales officer at SES Platform Services. “We are delighted that Sky has decided to rely on our technical expertise and multi-screen encoding services for its latest OTT offer, just as it did for Sky Go.”
Cable and telecom networks investor Patrick Drahi is in exclusive talks to acquire French weekly news magazine L’Express and other titles owned by Belgian publisher Roularta, with a deal possible in the next few days, according to French business title Les Echos. Drahi, who masterminded French cable operator Numericable’s acquisition of larger mobile rival SFR and is in the process of acquiring Portugal Telecom, has reportedly been in exclusive talks with Roularta for several weeks. According to BFM Business, the pair have yet to agree on a price, likely to be over €50 million, for Roularta’s 20 French titles, which the Belgian publisher acquired from Dassault for considerably more in 2006.Drahi is already the main shareholder in French newspaper Librération.
Channel operator UKTV is set to launch a new “high-spec” production facility at its London headquarters next month.The production studios will include edit suites, filming studios and a screening room.UKTV said that the facility will create 12 brand new job roles and that with the launch it is bringing creative services in house for first time.The expanded team of 28 creatives and production staff will produce more than 2,500 promos and 700 pieces of content a year for the network.The launch comes as UKTV reaches the end of a 10-year contractual relationship with Red Bee Media, which currently produces core creative work for UKTV’s channels.UKTV is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks and runs 11 channel brands including UKTV Play, Dave, Watch, Gold, Alibi, Yesterday, Drama and Really.
Vodafone Portugal has launched a new portable HD projector that is designed to enable viewers to watch TV services in HD quality against a screen or wall, with projections up to a diagonal length of 300 inches.The device, the SPRO2 Smart Projector from China’s ZTE, also includes a built-in screen that can be used as a tablet or smartphone in its own right.Users can download the Vodafone TV app for the device from Google Play and connect it to any WiFi network. The projector will be sold exclusively in Portugal by Vodafone through its online store.Vodafone said the commercial launch of the device was part of its strategy to provide its TV service, Vodafone TV Net Voz, on multiple platforms. The company recently launched a version of the service for viewing on smart watches.
Telekom Austria grew its domestic and international TV base in the fourth quarter and full 2016 financial year, with demand for higher bandwidth and TV products contributing to a stabilisation of its ARPU in its domestic Austrian market.The operator grew its Austrian TV subscriber base to 284,000, up from 278,700 at the end of the previous quarter and up from 269,400 at the end of last year.Austrian TV RGUs grew by 5.5% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, outperforming fixed-line RGU growth of 1.1%.In Bulgaria, where Telekom Austria owns cable operator Blizoo among other assets, it had 478,200 TV customers, up marginally year-on-year. The Croatian TV base, via local subsidiary Vipnet, is also growing slowly, with 202,400 customers recorded at the end of the year, while in neighbouring Slovenia, Telekom Austria had 50,500 TV customers, up from 37,600 at the end of the previous year. In Macedonia, Telekom Austria’s local subsidiary had 124,100 TV customers at the end of the year.Telekom Austria expanded its IPTV universe with the acquisition of Altant Telekom in Belarus. The operator has both IPTV and cable subscribers and offers on-demand movies and music as part of its range of services.Despite the TV success, the fourth quarter was mixed for the operator, with overall revenues falling slightly and EBITDA falling significantly – buy 17.7% – in the fourth quarter. The operator posted full year revenues of €4.21 billion and EBITDA of €1.35 billion.
French media regulator the CSA has authorised transmission services provider TDF to use a third digital-terrestrial channel to pilot UHD TV services in the Île-de-France, Nantes and Toulouse areas.TDF will add DTT channel 83 to channels 81 and 82, which have been in service since 2014. The channels are distributed via three digital-terrestrial frequencies.TDF has led UHD tests in France from transmitters at the Eiffel Tower over the last five years. The trial was extended in May to the Île-de-France, Nantes and Toulouse with a number of ‘multi-city’ tests aimed at consumers equipped with DVB-T2/HEVC UHD TVs.The company, in partnership with TV channels and other including the French tennis federation, has distributed signals including Wide Colour Gamut and High Dynamic Range – in the HDR10 format – in addition to 4K resolution, and will soon add Higher Frame-Rate video.TDF has teamed up with technology outfit Ateme to provide compression for its UHD service. According to TDF, improvements in HEVC compression technology have enabled the launch of the third channel, with the required bandwidth falling from 40Mbps to 33Mbps, which, alongside variable bit-rate encoding, has enabled it to fit an extra channel into its experimental UHD multiplex.Other partners for the trial include The Explorer, the INA and St Thomas Production. SDR footage has been converted to HDR10 thanks to technology developed by research institute B<>COM.According to the CSA, 31% of sales of TVs in France in 2017 were of UHD models.
Satellite operator Eutelsat has chosen ground infrastructure providers to operate its future Konnect satellite and associated broadband services: General Dynamics Satcom Technologies has been selected to offer and deploy seven antennas, while Hughes Network Systems will provide its Jupiter ground network system.With 75Gbps of capacity, Konnect is described by Eutelsat as a new generation multi-beam satellite scheduled for launch at the end of this year. Once in service in 2020, the all-electric satellite will serve the broadband Internet market on a large scale throughout western Europe and Africa.General Dynamics Satcom Technologies’ solution will provide seven 9-metre antennas to support traffic exchange between the satellite and its ground network system.Eutelsat’s long-standing partner, Hughes will provide its Jupiter platform for Konnect ground network system, including baseband equipment and new generation user terminals.Yohann Leroy, Deputy CEO and CTO of Eutelsat, said: “Ground infrastructure was the last missing link in our Konnect satellite programme and this has been bridged thanks to orders placed with Hughes Network Systems and General Dynamics Satcom Technologies, two trusted partners and references in their respective fields. The satellite, which has just completed its construction and is currently starting its test phase, will thus benefit from high-performance ground and in-orbit infrastructure on a cost-efficient basis to deliver competitive services to our customers.”