Agreement on digital terrestrial television in Poland

By Katarzyna Grynienko
    The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) has reached an agreement with the Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), assuring that DTT will be broadly available in Poland this year.

    At a KRRiT press conference, the head of the Council, Witold Kołodziejski, introduced the basics of the digitalization process in Poland. The Polish Press Agency reports that first of three steps of converting to DTT will start in September 2009. Kołodziejski presented a full timetable of changes in particular regions of Poland (available on the KRRiT's website, www.krrit.gov.pl ). The first cities that will change their form of broadcasting will be in Zielona Góra, Żagań, Warsaw and Poznań. The next two steps will take place in March, 2010, and July, 2011, covering the whole country. The analogue signal will be switched of in Poland by July 31, 2013.

    Polish DTT will be working in a multiplex format, which consists of a couple of television stations and additional services broadcast on one digital channel. KRRiT had encouraged analogue broadcasters to choose the operator who will receive their products and pass it on to the viewers. Kołodziejski said that KRRiT is planning to give the analogue broadcasters a possibility to transfer to DTT, which would free up the analogue frequencies for something else, like mobile television. He mentioned that head Polish stations TVP1, TVP2, TVP Info, Polsat, TVN, TV 4 and TV Puls were ready to engage in this process.

    The question of introducing DTT to the Polish market was the source of conflict between KRRiT and UKE (www.uke.gov.pl), the two institutions responsible for broadcasting conditions in Poland. After the press conference, KRRiT left their project to UKE's consideration in hope of an agreement that wouldn't slow the schedule. UKE responded the next day with strictures to the Council's plan. Gazeta Wyborcza (www.gazeta.pl) reports that the Office of Electronic Communications protested the unconstrained usage of free frequencies, stressing that it is UKE's responsibility to dispose of them. UKE also removed the proposal of a single operator for a multiplex, which would make the company TP EmiTel the only suitable candidate. The Office also prolonged the list of cities included in the first step of digitalization, adding Sucha Góra and Skrzyczne Wisła.

    Polish DTT will be received in the MPEG-4 standard, which makes most Polish TV sets unfit for the changes. The cost of a set top box decoder is approximate 250 PLN (€58), possibly the source of major changes in the Polish RTV market. The KRRiT had already assigned 400 million PLN (€92 million) of financing to provide the equipment to the citizens who cannot afford it. KRRiT and UKE are also planning a major media campaign that would help Poles in a smooth transition, starting with introducing a special logo that will be added to every receiver suitable for DTT.