Helsinki, Finland -- The Finnish government announced the
winning applicants for digital-terrestrial-TV channels last month, and there were no
surprises, as the licenses were all awarded to the major leaguers zooming into the new
world of digital television.
The concessions, which were awarded by transport and
communications minister Olli-Pekka Heinonen, included three bouquets.
In two cases, various companies won channels on the same
bouquet group. However, they will run their channels independently.
The first bouquet awarded was largely a fait accompli,
going to state broadcaster YLE. That company will create a channel composed of its
established analog TV1D and TV2D channels and a new Swedish-language channel called FST.
YLE will also create two new services -- a round-the-clock
news service called YLE24 and a culture, education and science service.
The second bouquet included commercial broadcaster MTV3,
Canada's ChumCity International, Helsinki Media and upstart Wellnet.
MTV3 is partnered with ChumCity. The latter's vice
president and general manager, Stephen Tapp, said the two companies are still working out
their equity agreement.
They plan to produce three versions of Chum's City-TV
channel in three Finnish cities, and MTV3 has a license to produce a national City-TV
channel, which would be a composite of the local feeds.
MTV, unrelated to MTV Networks, also has a joint venture
with Helsinki in a new digital channel covering national sports such as football,
equestrian competitions and track-and-field events.
The fourth company on this multiplex is a newcomer,
Wellnet, owned by small and midsized Finnish publishing companies. It describes its
planned channel as "a feel-good service network." That channel, as well as MTV's
sports channel, will be partially subscription-funded.
The third bouquet included channels for commercial
broadcaster TV4, France's Canal Plus S.A. and locally based WSOY.
TV4, 50 percent-owned by Helsinki Media, will transmit its
existing analog channel on its digital frequency.
Canal Plus will transmit a subscription-funded channel
featuring soap operas, sports and films, while WSOY will transmit an educational channel.
A loose group of local investors also won a
channel on the bouquet, which it will use to transmit a subscription-funded film channel.
Among the unsuccessful bidders were French-based sports
service Eurosport, Sweden's Modern Times Group, Sonera (formerly known as Telecom
Finland), Helsinki Telephone Corp. and media wanna-be A4 of Finland.
A license is valid for 10 years beginning Sept. 1, 2000 --
in time for the Sydney Olympic Games, the local rights to which haven't been awarded.