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The Warsaw Voice » Society » July 2, 2010
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Media in brief
July 2, 2010   
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Russian Billionaire Eyes Le Monde
Gleb Fetisov, one of the 50 wealthiest men in Russia, has put in a bid for France’s prestigious Le Monde newspaper, which is in financial difficulties. “To me, this transaction is a business project above all, I want to develop the newspaper and keep a majority block of shares,” Fetisov said, adding he is not interested in selling Le Monde any time soon.

Fetisov, worth an estimated $1.6 billion, is the fourth potential buyer interested in the French title. The others are the Prisa media group in Spain, Swiss publisher Ringier and the Le Nouvel Observateur magazine in France.

In 2012-2014, Le Monde will have to pay back debt totaling 69 million euros. Le Monde employees, who own the paper, are ready to give up a majority block of shares provided they retain the right to veto the choice of editor-in-chief.

Fetisov, who made his fortune on telecommunications and banking, has dangled the prospect of drawing Russian advertisers to the paper. If he succeeds in buying Le Monde, it will be the fourth European press title acquired by a Russian. France Soir has been owned by Alexandr Pugachev since January last year while oligarch Alexandr Lebedev has bought Britain’s The Evening Standard and Independent.

New Rules for Terrestrial Digital TV
The government has adopted guidelines for a law on terrestrial digital television. The law will apply to TV broadcasters, operators of cable networks, operators of satellite TV platforms, other operators distributing TV programs based on wireless technology, telecommunications companies, digital TV set producers, consumers, and public administration.

The law will define the terms of selecting an operator for the country’s first digital terrestrial multiplex that would have to include three public television channels—TVP 1, TVP 2 and TVP Info. A second multiplex would be intended for the distribution of programs from private broadcasters such as Polsat, TVN, TV4 and TV Puls.

Under the guidelines, multiplex operators will be obligated to ensure free access to digital programs for households. After Jan. 1 next year, all digital TV sets available in stores would have to be adapted to receive all free terrestrial digital television programs in HD and standard format.

A multiplex is a combination of several television channels and additional services mixed together for broadcasting over a single digital channel. The operator of a multiplex receives the programs and services from individual broadcasters, combines them and sends them to viewers. According to a schedule approved by the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), terrestrial digital television programs should be available throughout Poland beginning next year.

More Broadband Internet Access
The number of broadband internet users in Poland will rise by anywhere from 500,000 to 600,000 by the end of this year, according to telecommunications company Netia. The company also projects that the number of its broadband internet customers will increase to 700,000, from 525,000 at the beginning of December last year and 571,000 at the end of January this year.

“Due to price drops and other factors, the internet access market expanded by 120,000 users in the first quarter and may grow by 500,000 or 600,000 by the end of the year,” said Netia CEO Mirosław Godlewski.

In mid-April, Netia reduced the price of its fastest internet access service in response to a similar move by rival Telekomunikacja Polska. The latter has also promised to offer cheaper internet access for customers settling for slower speeds in the near future.

Fewer Fixed Lines, More Mobile Users
Only 51.4 percent of Poland’s households had a fixed telephone line last year, down from 58.4 percent in 2008, according to a survey commissioned by the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE). Meanwhile, the percentage of mobile users increased from 83 to 84.9 percent over the same period, the office said in a report.

Respondents using both a fixed-line and mobile phone accounted for 40.9 percent of those surveyed, while 10.5 percent said they only had a fixed line. At the same time, 44 percent of those surveyed, up from 38.9 percent a year earlier, said they only had a mobile phone, the office said.

According to the office, the decreasing popularity of fixed-line telecommunications is partly due to the development of VoIP technology, which offers far lower prices for voice connections, especially international ones, compared with conventional fixed-line telephony.
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