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Digital TV: From confrontation to harmony

The 5th International Conference ‘Digital & Connected TV Russia 2014 – Digital Broadcasting and New Ways of Video Content Delivery. Interactive Services in Modern Networks’ organized by COMNEWS Group was held March 26, 2014 at Moscow Holiday Inn Lesnaya Hotel. General partner of the central Russian forum dedicated to TV and radio broadcasting was the leading global CDN- operator Akamai Technologies. The event was supported by key players of the market: global satellite operator Eutelsat was Golden Sponsor of the Conference, Russia’s largest pay TV service provider Tricolor TV was Official Partner of the Conference, and NGENIX was Official CDN-Partner of the event.  The round table 'Barriers to and opportunities for digital broadcasting in Russia’ was sponsored by international GS Group holding, while global satellite operator SES was General Exponent at Digital & Connected TV Russia 2014.

The conference contributors included: CDNvideo, IT-GRAD and Viaccess-Orca. Research partner of Digital & Connected TV Russia 2014 was J'Son & Partners research firm. The largest TV forum of the country was co-organized by Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network, National Association of TV and Radio Broadcasters of Russia (NAT) and Russian Association of Cable Television (ACTR). Digital & Connected TV Russia 2014 was also endorsed by the Association of Developers and Manufacturers of Broadcasting Equipment (ARPAT), HD Union, Information & Computer Technologies Industry Association (APKIT), International Academy of Communications (IAC), Association of Regional Telecom Operators and Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC). More than 50 media provided information support to the forum.

Advisor to the NAT President Vladimir Livshits, who kicked off the conference, emphasized that over the years Digital & Connected TV Russia has rightfully gained a reputation of traditional meeting point for the media industry, and captured an important niche, by covering the key trends in digital TV, and new ways of TV signal and video content delivery.

The forum started with a plenary session, where the floor was taken by Vice President of ACTR Mikhail Silin, Member of Regulatory Committee of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Victor Strelets, Acting CEO of Tricolor TV Sergey Stavropoltsev, Regional Vice President of Eutelsat S.A. in Russia and CIS Nikolay Orlov, Senior Channel Manager of Akamai Technologies in EMEA & Russia Greg Mendeleev, and Acting Strategic Marketing Director of GS Group Andrey Bezrukov. Participants of the plenary session underlined that Russian market of pay TV is developing amid the competition between conventional technologies and innovations in the TV industry. Meanwhile, viewers don’t care how exactly the video content is delivered to them: they just need access to it any time, any place and on any video devices.  Therefore, the main trend for the TV industry is global transition from confrontation to harmony, as little by little, all market players come to realize that content production, delivery and distribution are inter-related and inseparable tasks.

The plenary session was followed by a round table where panelists discussed the key trends and bottlenecks for digital TV in Russia, namely, deficit of spectrum resource and its allocation practices, conflict between terrestrial and regional television, slowdown in the cable TV market and satellite TV boom, increase in demand for HDTV services, and content devaluation. Besides, experts also emphasized the gradual switch of broadcasting to the Internet and expansion of OTT business, which comes along with a vast variety of user devices.

Pay TV broadcasting remains the core driver of the national ICT business, hence, the first session of the conference was dedicated to business models employed by Russian pay TV market players. Thus, CTO of NTV-Plus Oleg Kolesnikov told about the new company strategy, and CTO of Tricolor TV Igor Kotsarev made a detailed report about the expansion of satellite TV services in Siberia. Also, both operators announced the launch of operations via a new satellite Express-AT1, which was successfully inserted into orbit March 16, 2014. In turn, CEO of NGENIX Konstantin Chumachenko outlined the critical role of content delivery networks for the development of Internet broadcasting, and above all, OTT projects.

At the second session dedicated to new technologies and content Adviser of the Director-General of UNESCO Henrikas Juškevičius spoke about development of HDTV in Europe, while CEO of Amedia TV Vitaly Studitskikh reflected on the outlook for online video services. This session also explored issues of content for terrestrial TV channels and new opportunities of CDN for mobile and Smart TV.

The third session was fully dedicated to different formats of online broadcasting. In his opening remarks, the session moderator Alexander Kalin, Head of Information and Analytical Center and member of Management Committee of FoBTV, pointed out that while in Europe the share of Internet broadcasting is still marginal, in the US it may reach up to 50% of the pay TV market as soon as 2020. Elizabet Lykhina, Partner Relations Manager for Youtube in Russia and CIS, shared the video service’s winning formula and highlighted the fundamental role of content aimed at young people, who are the most active audience among all Internet users. Speakers of this session specifically emphasized that the film industry has reconsidered its attitude to OTT and Smart TV, as a result of which the delay in online launch of new blockbusters after they hit the big screens is gradually reducing.

The forum ended with a round table dedicated to the battle between conventional TV and online video. Panelists – Analyst of IHS Electronics and Media Kamilla Nigmatulina, CEO of ‘Moya Planeta’ TV channel Sergey Koshlyakov, Deputy CEO of ‘Moskva 24’ TV Channel Andrey Naumenko, B2B Director of Zoomby.ru Dmitry Safronov and Deputy Director of Nevex.TV Dmitry Volobuev came to a mutual conclusion that due to several objective factors, online video is not a threat to conventional TV broadcasting, and instead, it complements it with new interactive opportunities.
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