Poland: Theme channels emerge while heavyweights monopolize market

WARSAW — Even though the number of stations is growing in the Polish TV market, the heavyweights are still the same — state TV and two private networks, TVN and Polsat.

Together the three have 90% of the advertising market, estimated in 2005 to be 2.5 billion zloty ($778 million).

State TV continues to regularly grab some 50% of the market, but 2005 was an excellent year for TVN, which posted a 20% gain in revenue and is planning to invest in a new studio complex.

Competition for viewers has lead to the creation of more themed channels. The fight for viewers on the public channels is chiefly in the form of soaps and entertainment programs, often reality.

The most popular soaps are those broadcast by TVP. “L as Love” is beyond the reach of any competitor, with each episode pulling close to 10 million. Veteran sudser “The Family” is still going strong after eight years on the air.

A new phenomenon of the market is the number of crime series, which range from typical cops-and-robbers drama fare to reality. TVP has high hopes for a judicial series based on the “Richter Alexander Hold” format, titled “Judge Anna Wesolowska,” while Polsat’s biggest hit, “Residence Pod Roza,” is the most popular show on commercial TV.

“At Cannes we will look around for new ideas. We’re interested in interesting miniseries,” says Piotr Fajks, director of Foreign Cooperation Dept. at TVP. “We will not be looking for feature films, as we have previously bought large movie packages with Universal, Sony and MGM.”

Fajks reveals he’s not only shopping but eager to sell as well. A Russian TV station has bought the format of “L as Love,” and two other networks are showing interest as well.

TVN’s Renata Mecina says that at Mip she will chiefly be looking around and maintaining previously established contacts. The network has a contract with Warner Bros., thus giving it access to a large pool of movies.

As for other primetime fare, “If something interesting catches my eye, I’m ready to make a deal.”

1. “L as Love,” TVP2

2. “For Good and for Bad,” TVP2

3. “The Family,” TVP2