Cable channels look at green, health issues

BUDAPEST — T-Home, the cable provider for the Magyar Telecom Group, is piloting two pioneering channels in Hungary that tap into growing concern in the country for the environment and healthier living.

T-Home’s Ozone channel, currently being viewed by 500,000 households during a preliminary soft launch that will end in January when it is officially launched, broadcasts documentaries, movies and TV series surrounding environmental themes, which Robert Pataki, Magyar Telecom Group’s chief of strategy and business, says has become big business.

“We conducted research and … found that people are much more concerned about climate change and green issues than ever before,” said Pataki. “We’re trying to take this trend one step further” by turning it into a TV niche. T-Home’s Life channel, also in a testing stage and due to be launched in January, focuses on health concerns.

According to Cecilia Hazai, managing director of the distribution company Twin Media, which is providing content for the Life channel, health is fast becoming a commercial and programming genre in this market and others.

“These channels offer new opportunities for distributors,” said Hazai, whose company is scoring solid ratings with a yoga instruction program it distributes to Life.

T-Home’s Pataki says the programming themes of both channels are unprecedented locally, but the real innovation is their multi-platform distribution.

During the current testing period, T-Home is distributing Ozone and Life programming over cable TV, cell phones and the Internet. Plans to offer both over IPTV are also in the works.

“We offer innovative content and innovative platforms,” said Pataki. “We want to offer the end user more flexibility.”

In January, both channels will be launched over major cable systems in Hungary such as UPC. T-Home declined to disclose estimated penetration.

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