New Cable Venture Gets Greenlight

Plans for a clutch of pay TV channels backed by Norwegian and Danish state-owned telecoms and the powerful Scandinavian group Kinnivik are moving full steam ahead.

The new joint venture, called NSD, expects to launch up to 40 new channels throughout Scandinavia via the so-called One Degree West satellite, tapping a potential customer base of some 10 million households.

Seeking permission

This week NSD will apply to the European Union for permission to launch an initial 15 to 25 channels, a formality required because one partner is Tele Danmark, the telecom owned by EU member Denmark.

NSD is aiming to unseat SES’s dominance of the Scandinavian market, according to Eric Nord, a spokesperson for Norway’s state-owned telecommunications company Tele Nord.

The Luxembourg-based SES (the Societe Europeenne des Satellites) currently has some 100 channels being distributed on three Astra satellites.

Major coup

Last summer, NSD struck a major coup when Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, national commercial channel TV2, cable channels TV3 and TVNorge all switched over to One Degree West.

More channels are expected to follow, especially in Sweden and Finland.

To make a profit in Scandinavia, a channel needs to reach at least 75% of the TV homes, which NSD will do.

No mean feat

But another study by NSD found that competing with the major European companies in pay TV will be no mean feat.

One report found that pay TV in Europe is 89.3% controlled directly or indirectly by Canal Plus, BSkyB, German congloms Bertelsmann, Kirch and Deutsch Bundespost; FilmNet and Telepiu. NSD partner Kinnivik has a mere 3.4% of the European pay TV market.

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