PRAGUE — The Czech market, buoyed by stronger local currency over the past year, got caught in the undertow of the floods that swept across the region in early September.
“Thanks to the floods, you don’t really know what will happen to the Czech crown or to advertising,” says Ondrej Zach, head of acquisitions for buyer AQS.
Compounding the uncertainty is the lack of a new genre to replace the quiz fad of the past two years. Czech audiences appear to be maturing into the family-viewing years, with middle-of-the-road Prima TV steadily gaining viewers.
And as auds tire of the American-heavy diet of the past decade, Zach is looking to product closer to home.
“We are pleased to see more programming that we can get from Europe, and so are less dependent on U.S. studios,” he says.
Zach and his AQS team have emerged as the dominant buyer across the Czech and Slovak republics, purchasing rights for commercial powerhouse Nova, Prima, and new regional Prague station Galaxie in the Czech Republic and newcomer Joj TV in Slovakia.
The stagnant ad market has begun to pick up, but the country could see another financial crunch when an international arbitration court announces the amount the Czech Republic must pay CME for failing to protect its interest in Nova TV.
CME is asking for upwards of $700 million, including accrued interest, while Nova TV general manager Vladimir Zelezny — the man who wrested control of Nova TV from CME — has announced his candidacy for Senate. An easy win is predicted.