Sunday, August 08, 2010

Summertime Blues...

I have been remiss posting here. It is not like nothing has been happening. Just my day job has been a real energy burner, producing news by weight and amount is what matters. Quality?
Anyway, stuff has been happening. Cable TV providers Baltkom and Izzi  requested permission to merge from the Competition Council. Together, they would make a dominant player on the cable-delivered TV market, with more than 230 000 combined subscribers, plus a good many internet users. An interesting hint in the press releases was that the combined entity would use Balkom's Next Generation Network (NGN) optical technology rather than Izzi's DOCSIS cable internet system. This is reasonable, as Baltkom apparently has plans for some kind of interactive IP TV in the works. This would be a direct challenge to Lattelecom, who duly grumbled that the merged unit would be "dominant", without directly asking the Competition Council to nix the deal.
Speaking of which, Lattelecom and Swedish-owned satellite TV and content provider Viasat have gotten into a real urban airshaft catfight (the snarling and howling is something you hear in the big city these hot summer days) because some Viasat sales people called up and said that Lattelecom's digital terrestrial TV would go off the air.
WTF? you ask..It seems some wacko prosecutors working on the old digital TV criminal case have asked that all six digital transmitters and the digital head station currently running all of Lattelecom's channels in Riga should be "arrested" by court order. The court rules August 9, and some legal sources say that this could mean the equipment will be shut down and removed from the Riga TV tower,
The reason for this is the prosecutor's allegations that the transmitters were bought some six or seven years ago by fraudulently obtained funds. The alleged fraudster was the now defunct  Kempmayer Media Latvia (KML), the company implementing the first, scandal-terminated digital TV project that was shitcanned by the government in 2003 (if I am not mistaken). Sometime later, Hannu Pro, a supplier of professional TV equipment and turn-key studios, bought the dead carcass of KML and got the transmitters in the bargain. They are now operated by a subsidiary Hannu Digital under contract to Lattelecom.
Go figure...

Back to the alleycat fight--it escalated straight to both companies calling each other liars and threatening to denounce each other to various authorities. Viasat even said it would complain to its big daddy, the Modern Times Group in Sweden (they have nothing to do this summer?).
Ok, there is some basis for the hissing and snarling. Before Latvia made the digital switchover Viasat ran TV ads suggesting that soon screens across Latvia would go blank and they were the only alternative. Bullshit, but true, analog screens did go blank.
But why all the bridge burning rhetoric? Viasat is clearly playing both sides of the tracks here -- both pushing its satellite TV deals and selling its rather pricey cable TV content packages to whomever will take them. In fact, Viasat has cut a deal with Izzi (it had a dispute with Baltkom, I think, and none of its channels appear there) and several of its program packages can be ordered. As far as urban customers are concerned, it doesn't matter where or how the content arrives.
One would think Lattelecom would be interested in offering some of the Viasat channels as premium offerings both on its digital terrestrial and interactiveTV offering. Having screaming catfights doesn't pave the way for doing business later... or does it.
It is f**king hot for Latvia, 32 C in the shade and I am writing from a couch-swing in the yard of my summer cottage in Carnikava, waiting for the big bad thunderstorms that have been promised  all day.  I have also revived the tradition of listing the music I listened to while writing. Please click on the Amazon stuff, I have yet to make an associate sale :)

The Who Summertime Blues, Ted Nugent, Stranglehold, Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road,  Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Two Trains Running, Rage Against The Machine, Calm Like A Bomb, Down on the Street, Maggie's Farm, Steppenwolf, Magic Carpet Ride, Jimi Hendrix Machine Gun.

1 comment:

Jorge said...

Hi, i'd like to contact with the author of this blog for asking some questions about Internet connections in Latvia and providers. If you could mail me i can explain you the details. Thanks! nokiero AT gmail DOT com