MTG takes stake in Russian pay-TV

Modern Times Group is buying 50 per cent of Russian DTH pay-TV operator Raduga TV.

Raduga claims 70,000 subscribers for its 50-channel service, which includes a package of international channels including Discovery, Eurosport and MTG-owned Viasat's History and Explorer channels.

The Raduga TV package is priced at RUB300 ($10) per month on a three or six month pre-paid contract basis. The channels are encrypted with the Irdeto conditional access system and made available through the Asian Broadcasting Satellite ABS-1 (75° East) Northern Beam, which covers more than 90 per cent of the Russian Federation. Subscriptions can be purchased from retailers across Russia.

The remaining 50 per cent interest in Raduga has been retained by original backer Continental Media. The two owners will share management control of Raduga.

Viasat Broadcasting now provides DTH satellite TV services in a total of nine countries – Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia – and distributes its Viasat branded channels via third party operators in 25 countries across Central and Eastern Europe and in the US. The nine platforms have over one million subscribers. The pay-TV channels had attracted over 39 million subscriptions as at end-September 2009.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO of MTG, said: “We are delighted to have forged this strong partnership to develop a competitive pay-TV distribution platform in Europe's largest market by number of TV households. Our Viasat channels are already well known by subscribers across Russia. We are an integrated TV broadcaster, operating free and pay-TV businesses across multiple markets, and Russia is one of the most attractive pay-TV markets in the world”.

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