Territory report: Poland

Top Polish cablers working on marriage

WARSAW — The biggest story in Polish media is the ongoing merger between two competing digital platforms — Cyfra+ and Wizja.

Former is backed by Vivendi Universal’s Canal Plus and the latter by pan-Euro cabler UPC.

The American-backed UPC will have a 25% stake and the French a 75% stake in the new entity, to be called TKP.

As part of the agreement reached in August, UPC will get 150 million euros from its French partner. Because both platforms had been operating at a loss, most pundits believe the merger is a good thing. Wizja brings 385,000 subscribers to the table; Cyfra has 340,000.

TKP says it needs another 100,000 subscribers or so to reach breakeven. The company is expected to be profitable within a few years.

Christian Kozar, director general for Cyfra+ and Canal+Polska, claims that the company will begin generating income a year after its formation.

“We have been waiting for this merger for a long time,” says Lew Rywin, chairman of the TKP supervisory board.

“For economic reasons, the Polish market does not have room for more than a couple of digital platforms. It was also an unfavorable situation for the subscribers, who had to choose between two product offers. Now the offering will be standardized, much broader, and enhanced with such things as interactive capability.”

New digital offering should be available by Christmas.

The deal is still pending regulatory approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Board.

The newly formed TKP is not, strictly speaking, a monopoly as there’s also a digital platform with 200,000 subs operated by Polsat.

TV homes:12.3 million

Cable homes:4.1 million

Satellite homes:2.5 million

Local programming:60%

Top show:Polish edition of “Big Brother” on TVN

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