No two or three new linear TV channels are being prepared by the Prima group for the full terrestrial multiplex 22. According to Prima's boss Marek Singer, the information about the free capacity for three programme positions that are blocked for Prima, which was presented at the DIGIMEDIA 2023 conference in June by the CEO of Czech Radiocommunications (CRA) Miloš Mastník, was misunderstood. The journalists quickly noticed the surprising figure in the presentation and asked Singer directly at DIGIMEDIA about the blocked programming positions for Prima and he answered ambiguously in the sense that Prima would announce its plans in due course. Now Singer has shed more light on the “mystery” of the vacant programming positions for Prima's three stations in an interview with Marketing a Media.
Prima pays for the same capacity but has reduced the resolution
„This information was presented on DIGIMEDIA, but it's not really as it seems. As the Prima Group, we have a certain capacity blocked with Czech Radio Communications for broadcasting our channels. It is up to us how many channels we will put there,“ said Singer. The vacant positions for Prima in multiplex 22 appeared after the group reduced the picture resolution of some of its programmes from HD ready to SD+. However, the group continues to pay CRA for all the capacity it has contracted on the network. It is therefore a similar situation to that of the public multiplex 21, where Czech Television pays CRA for the entire capacity of the multiplex and it is entirely up to the company how it uses it. Therefore, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new programme, ČT 3, may have been created, whose programming position reduced the data flows of other ČT programmes on the network.
Marcel Procházka, Director of the Regulatory and Legal Department of the CRA, confirms the allocation of specific capacity of multiplex 22 for the Prima Group. „If you look at the long-term reports that the Czech Telecommunications Office has on the use of network capacity, you will see that multiplex 22 is already sold out as of 2020,“ Procházka told Televizníweb.cz. Looking back, Prima broadcast most of its stations in HD 1280 x 720 resolution from the completion of the transition to DVB-T2 in 2020 until the beginning of 2022, specifically Prima, Prima Cool, Prima Zoom, Prima Max, Prima Krimi, Prima Love and CNN Prima News. Only the lower-viewership stations Prima Star, Prima +1 and Prima Show were broadcast in 960 x 540 resolution.
However, in January 2022, a change was made when all HD programmes, with the exception of CNN Prima News, switched to SD resolution. This is probably the reason why Prima is not using all its capacity in multiplex 22, where apart from Prima, only two music TV programmes, Óčko, Retro Music TV, the promo channel Nalaďte se na CRA and Radio Proglas are broadcast. Prima currently broadcasts 10 programmes in multiplex 22, including one in HD quality (CNN Prima News - 1280 x 720) and nine in SD+ quality (960 x 540).
Sports channel? More likely the return of sports as such
Marek Singer does not directly rule out the possibility that Prima could launch some new linear TV programme in the future. „I can certainly think of one more channel, maybe two, that could be implemented, but it's always a question of economics. I'm not saying we won't launch anything else, but I don't think it will be in the horizon of weeks or months. We're building that portfolio so that we don't overlap channels and hit other targets. However, the problem with some of the target channels that we have not yet captured is that they are not commercially interesting,“ said Prima's head to Marketing a Media. He also confirmed Prima's thoughts on the return of sport to its portfolio of TV channels, but probably not as a separate programme.
„The considerations were more about sport as such. It does not necessarily represent a channel, but it can be different forms of distribution. If we decided to do that, then only with a strategic partner. Even for the current broadcasters active in sports rights, it will be increasingly difficult to do sports independently,“ Singer said. Hospodářské noviny reported some time ago that Prima is considering acquiring TVCOM, a sports streaming service that operates in the Czech Republic and Poland and offers, for example, broadcasts of league basketball matches. The owner of Prima, Ivan Zach, is a fan of the latter. It would not be the first time Prima has tried to enter the sports sector. In 2008, it broadcast the European Football Championship, and previously it regularly offered coverage of Formula 1 and motorcycle races.
Prima has distribution capacity in multiplex 22, which it can very easily use for its new TV stations. The launch of new stations will therefore depend mainly on the cost of acquiring content and targeting a specific customer segment that should not cannibalise the Prima Group's existing programmes and, of course, on the overall economics.