Foreign firms join race for private Polish web

Several key foreign companies are bidding for an ownership stake in Poland’s private TV web. License seekers include Time Warner Inc., Bertelsmann, Canal Plus, CLT and the Central European Development Corp.

The Polish National Council for TV & Radio, the body in charge of awarding the country’s only national private TV license, recently released an official list of 10 applicants. These contenders illustrated their plans for the channel to the Council and the press during a hearing Jan. 15-17 in Warsaw.

A Council rep told Daily Variety that nine of the 10 applicants are proposing a family-oriented, general-entertainment web with varying mixes of news and sports. Canal Plus’ application for a terrestrially beamed pay TV service is the sole exception.

Candidates for the license:

  • TV7. A consortium of Polish business interests, including TV/film distributor ITI, with backing from Luxembourg-based broadcaster CLT and international news organization Reuters.

  • Polonia 1. Twelve local stations forming an ad hoc network covering about 50% of the territory. Part-owned by Italian publisher Nicola Grauso. Already on the air.

  • Polsat. Polish-owned satellite broadcaster, already on the air.

  • NTP. Polish publisher with the Central European Development Corp., an investment consortium led by cosmetics mogul Ron Lauder.

  • OTP. A Polish investment group, with backing from German publishing giant Bertelsmann.

  • Antena 1. Fronted by well-known journalist Marian Terlecki, backed by a letter of intent for an equity stake from Time Warner.

  • Canal Plus, with Polish businessmen from the cosmetics industry. Channel would be similar to the French pay service.

  • Top Canal Media. A pirate channel already on the air in Warsaw. No known foreign partners.

  • Niepokalanow. A religious network backed by a group of Dominican friars. A late entry to the race.

  • Antena Polska. Backed by a large Polish entertainment group with holdings in publishing, casinos and a radio station. Another late entry.
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