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A Screen Digest analysis focused on the Central and Eastern European pay-TV market shows that the recent rapid growth in new satellite TV market entrants in Central and Eastern Europe shows no signs of slowing down. There are at least four new satellite players due to launch in the region in the next few weeks with new services earmarked for Russia, Macedonia, Slovakia and the Ukraine.
Prospects for growth vary by country with the underlying uptake of pay TV and plans surrounding Digital Terrestrial Television important factors in the potential for new entrants. Pay-TV penetration in Russia, Ukraine and Macedonia is still relatively low (less than 50 per cent of homes each) leading to a land-grab among new entrants.
One of the main reasons that these markets are proving attractive is that DTT has yet to launch in any of them. Experience from other markets like Romania and Poland has shown that satellite TV can expand very rapidly in DTT-free markets, taking advantage of the lack of competition rural areas and small cities. But the window of opportunity to launch without competition from a free DTT service is disappearing fast. In Slovakia Towercom, the DTT operator licence holder, is required to launch a free service with 80 per cent coverage by the end of 2009. In Macedonia, Slovenia Telecom, the winner of the tender for DTT, is expected to launch by May 2010.