Digital TV softly bows in Finland

Digita launch covers 50% of the territory

AMSTERDAM — Finland soft-launched its new digital terrestrial platform Monday with the bow of three pay TV packages, which include 12 channels.

Platform was launched by Digita, which is 51% owned by Finnish pubcaster YLE and 49% by Telediffusion de France (TDF).

At present it reaches 50% of the territory but is heading for 70% by the end of the year, according to Kari Risberg, head of transmission and distribution for YLE. Aim is to cover the entire country with digital by 2006.

Among the channels on the platform are Finland’s existing two public webs, YLE 1 and 2; Swedish service FST; 24-hour news channel YLE 24; cultural and educational channel YLE Teema; national commercial web MTV3, a sports net run by several media companies; health channel Wellnet; and two movie webs, Canal Plus and SWelcom Filmchannel, the latter offering Canal Plus Gold films.

Finland began testing the platform a year ago but delayed the launch until enough set-top converter boxes were available.

While Finland claims to be the first country in the world to use the Multimedia Home Platform nationally, the bottom line is that there are still not enough MHP set-top boxes for a hard launch, which has been delayed until December.

Risberg said: “There are enough set-top boxes for the basic TV services, but you can’t get the value-added services such as electronic programming guide and superteletext and betting services, which have been promised as part of the platform.”

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