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Investment for Broadcasters to Go Digital

Banks say they are ready to help Eastern Europeans transition to digital

At an event held in Vienna in late October, two European development banks announced that they were ready to inject funds into the digitization of Eastern European public-service broadcasters.

Entitled “Financing digitization in Eastern Europe: the challenge for public service broadcasters,” the conference was organized by the European Broadcasting Union and co-organized by the Austrian Federal Chancellery, Austrian Broadcasting (ORF), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Senior figures from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) described digitization as an advisable, viable business model.

“Broadcasters need digital infrastructure, including network and digitization equipment, to respond to technological changes and ensure preservation of existing cultural heritage,” said Laura Campbell, of the EBRD’s Department of Industry, Commerce and Agribusiness. “EBRD financing is available for bankable operations that are consistent with that mandate.”

She continued by stating that the EBRD saw digitization as a way to create potential new revenue streams, including fees for digital library use; creation of cinema pre-shows mixing advertising; branded entertainment and local content; use of the digital infrastructure for non-public purposes and fees from distribution to cable channels for expatriate viewing.

Directors general and/or their senior colleagues from EBU members in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia attended the meeting.