Ongoing efforts to impose a charge on online content, boosting the offering of content on demand or new thematic TV and radio stations. Here is the recapitulation of events in the media market in 2021.
Ongoing efforts to impose a charge on online content, boosting the offering of content on demand, new thematic TV and radio stations, tense situations around public service media and the recurring need to respond to the new waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a list of the key events of this year on the media market.
The coronavirus, which had a enormous impact on the previous year, accompanied events in the media throughout 2021. However, its impacts were less negative. The situation was worse in the first quarter, which reflected predominantly in the investments in cinema advertising (cinema theatres were closed until June) and OOH (the ongoing state of emergency and reduced human mobility in the streets). With the easing in May, the situation started to change and the demand for ad space across media types started to grow. This resulted in the pressure on ad space, which was sold out already in the summer, and this situation extended into the second half of the year. It also affected pricing for 2022.
The largest local media companies based on the traditional media world characterised by a strong position of individual media types (TV, print, radio, online) are seeking to transform into the digital environment and integrate their media offerings into a whole. Czech News Center and Vltava Labe Media planned significant investments in the digital transformation and the Nova group has also been following this direction after the entrance of the new owner, the PPF group. Nova is building its digital strategy around its pay video portal Voyo where it wishes to place some of its original shows as a priority and afterwards distribute them to its viewers from there through other channels. The placement of the long-running TV series Ordinace v růžové zahradě to the digital platform only is one of the results of the strategy.
Although the Czech market lags behind the development in Western European countries in terms of media audience behaviour, there is no doubt that local media companies have to get ready for the time when viewers will much more and more often decide on what, when and where they are going to watch. Nova’s competitor, the Prima group, does not want to fall behind and has started working on several alternatives of its pay online service. In addition, Česká televize is aware that the online environment cannot be omitted due to the priorities of predominantly the young generation.
Czech publishers more often articulate their awareness of the need to support the sources of income from the sale of digital content although it is still rather low in aggregate and does not represent the major source of income for traditional publishers. Some publishers offering titles for reader groups with specific profiles have decided to accept Google’s proposal and joined the Google News Showcase project, which should generate money for the content used. The publishers’ policy is not uniform in this issue. Large publishing groups tend to wait for the establishment of a collective administrator who would redistribute the money from global tech companies to publishers.
Some print titles and, predominantly, magazines experience a cautious renaissance. Former renowned brands such as Instinkt, Marie Claire or Mladý svět have returned to the market. Forum 24 launched a print newspaper format of Týdeník Forum in August. A 11 distributed its regional newspaper Náš region across the Czech Republic. The NextPage Media publishing house included another print title in its portfolio and is building its growth strategy on print titles.
The market of thematic TV stations was also dynamic. The largest commercial groups Nova and Prima launched new stations Nova Lady, Nova Sport 3, Nova Sport 4, Prima Start and Prima Show. Český rozhlas also introduced new digital stations: the sports radio station Radiožurnál Sport and ČRO Pohoda intended for older audiences.
Media Bohemia was also active on the radio market, continuing the acquisition of regional radios and integrating them in its radio families (Hitrádio, Rock rádio, Fajn rádio and the Blaník radio network). This year, it has grown both in Bohemia and Moravia. Audio on demand (various types of podcasts) has become another type of content on which media operators across the market bet more frequently, trying to monetize it slowly.
Throughout the year, the media agenda included public service media. In Česká televize, there was a tense situation between the Czech Television Council, which had new members after the elections in 2020, and the CEO of the Czech public TV Petr Dvořák. The situation escalated to lodging a criminal complaint about ČT management and Hana Lipovská with the police. Another planned change in the composition of the Czech Television Council was supposed to take place in the first half of this year but finally failed to occur before the elections to the Chamber of Deputies held in October due to the intentional obstructions of opposition deputies. As such, it will be the responsibility of newly elected deputies to complete the members of the Council. Towards the end of the year, there was an outburst of emotions in Český rozhlas due to the plan of the CEO, René Zavoral, to appoint Jitka Obzinová to the position of the news director. More than 600 employees of the Czech public radio expressed their disagreement by signing a petition. Finally, the CEO abandoned his intention.
Selected events in the media market in 2021
- Empresa Media re-launched its society monthly magazine Instinkt on 28 January. The magazine ceased publication in October 2019.
- Czech businessmen who financed the launch of Deník N waived their ownership interests and invested them in a new foundation Nadace Independent Press. The representation of the Slovak Denník N has not changed.
- The culture TV Naživo terminated broadcasting on the terrestrial platform and announced its plan to prepare shows for other TV companies going forward, justifying the step by having no partner for further broadcasting.
- The sale of Mladá fronta continued. The kids titles were auctioned off by Valora Investment, Motocykl by P. Sedlák, the medical titles by Eesy Publishing, the online titles (Euro.cz, Profit.cz or Edna.cz) were bought by Internet Info and the kids titles Puntík and Tečka! are newly published by MediaKids Publishing.
- PPF made the first major changes in the management of TV Nova after its acquisition, which included the staffing of key positions.
- Český rozhlas (ČRo) obtained broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games 2022 in Beijing and the Olympics in Paris in 2024 from Disocvery Communications.
- Media Bohemia entered the Zlín region through the acquisition of the Zlín and Rock Max radio stations. It also opened its Radiohouse agency branch in Zlín. Rádio Zlín became a member of the Hitrádio network.
- After 16 years, Mladý svět returned to the market. The weekly magazine was introduced by A 11. It was distributed on Thursdays for CZK 29.
- Seznam.cz launched its first pay content service Seznam Premium. It allows watching ad-free videos. Subscription amounts to CZK 339 per year (about CZK 29 per month). However, Seznam emphasized that it was still available for free to its users.
- Additional parts of Mladá fronta were sold. The book division of MF was purchased by Albatros Media for CZK 14 million. The print weekly Euro was bought by New Look Media (Dolce Vita, Muži v Česku).
- The Municipal Court in Prague adjudicated Media Investments bankrupt. The agency was subject to the insolvency proceedings from last year and practically wound down its activities.
- Aktuálně.cz launched a new platform A+, where it introduced its “public interest” projects. Readers can also contribute to the website operation. The website continues to be available free of charge.
- CNN Prima News started broadcasting regional news Zprávy z regionů on 2 February. Regional editors of MF Dnes (Mafra) and Deník (VLM) participate in the programme’s content.
- The regional radio Oldies rádio (music of the 1960s-1980s) stopped broadcasting on FM frequencies and moved to the internet. In the FM band it was replaced by Rock Radio, targeting listeners aged 25-49.
- Karel Komárek’s group KKCG established Media Marketing & Communication, a company focusing on media planning and marketing services.
- Hospodářské noviny (Economia) has been published in a new design since March. The newspaper’s format has also changed.
- Radim Pařízek, the media businessman, died suddenly aged 67. His media activities included radio stations Čas, Čas Rock Radio, Rádio Dálnice, TV Rebel, TV Relax and the digital multiplex 24.
- Rockaway Capital owned by Jakub Havrlant became the investor of the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary (MFF KV). It made an equity investment in the organising company. J. Bartoška remains the president.
- Google launched a project called News Showcase in the Czech Republic. Within the project, it pays to the participating publishers for content. It did not disclose the amount of money concerned in the Czech market. Agreements were concluded with Economia, Echo Media, Internet Info, N media (Deník N) and Forum 24. ČTK joined the project at a later date.
- The Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of CNC L. Šmuclerová published a call for traditional media support. She pointed out to the negative impacts of social networks and large tech companies.
- CME, the owner of the Nova group, headed by D. Stoessel, defined a new direction towards the digital media and pay services. The centre of the new strategy is the video portal Voyo, to the redesign of which CME invests.
- The cofounder of Bohemia Interactive, Marek Španěl, became a new majority owner of Echo Media, the publisher of Týdeník Echo and the Echo24.cz website. He bought the shares from Rudolf Ovčaří. The editor in chief D. Balšínek returned to the management of the publishing house. He also became the chairman of the Board of Directors and again the shareholder of Echo Media. The transaction was managed by the media businessman M. Voráček.
- The Municipal Court in Prague rejected the insolvency petition in respect of the media agency Médea. The petition was lodged by Lipian Trade in February. The court stated that the petitioner had failed to prove the existence of an outstanding receivable.
- Czech News Center (CNC) established its own media agency for small and midium-sized enterprises (SME). The agency is intended to serve primarily regional clients.
- The spring months saw disputes between the Czech Television Council and the CEO of the Czech public TV Petr Dvořák. The Council required him to explain his engagement in Gopas, a firm providing ČT with consulting services. According to the Council member H. Lipovská he was in a conflict of interests. Dvořák refused the argument, seeing nothing unlawful in his co-ownership of the firm.
- Český rozhlas launched a sports station Radiožurnál Sport on 21 May. It is available in the digital broadcasting DAB+, on the internet and in DVB-T2. It is targeting sports fans, mainly men aged 35-50.
- Česká televize moved all kids programmes to ČT:D.
- The number of people facing disinformation and fake news has been growing in Czechia. According to the research of Nielsen Admosphere for NFNZ, 66% of the online population was exposed to disinformation or fake news last year (+11 pp compared to 2019).
- Forbes introduced a pay digital version and activated pay premium content on its website Forbes.cz. The service is called Premium and contains not only articles from Forbes and Forbes Next but also other content on business, entrepreneurship and success. The monthly subscription fee is CZK 139.
- The new owner of České Radiokomunikace (CRA) is Cordiant Digital Infrastructure. Under the new owner, the firm wants to continue its services and enter new businesses.
- Seznam.cz announced the launch of its audio platform Podcasty.cz. It is intended to be another service for advertisers in addition to online and TV advertising.
- The Nova group launched a live news service TN Live on its news website TN.cz.
- On 14 June, Prima Start, a new thematic station of the Prima group, started broadcasting. It focuses mainly on Prima’s archive production (Nikdo není dokonalý, To je fór, Velmi křehké vztahy or S Italem v kuchyni). It is targeted primarily at women.
- The A 11 publishing house (owned by A. Zavoral) completed the coverage of the whole Czech Republic through Náš region with the print run of 2.5 million. It also entered two radio stations, Samson and Západ.
- After eight months of statutory closure, all cinema theatres opened. As such, single-screen theatres that were open to the public from late May were joined by multiplexes.
- The TV series Ordinace v růžové zahradě 2 (Nova) terminated its TV broadcasting after 16 years. Since the autumn season, it has only been available to the viewers of the pay video portal Voyo.
- The most listened regional radio in Liberec, Radio Contact Liberec, became a new member of the Hitrádio network (Media Bohemia, Radiohouse). Media Bohemia strengthened the broadcasting of Rádio Blaník in the Liberec region.
- Empresa Media introduced a print fortnightly in the tabloid segment. It is published under the name of VIP Svět. Its selling price is CZK 12, which is the lowest selling price in the segment.
- Jaromír Soukup became the sole shareholder of Médea again. From the last year, he was in the position of a minority owner of the media agency (44%). He bought the remaining share back from the Chinese firm Citic. At the same time, changes is the Board of Directors and management were made. Representatives of the Chinese shareholder left and also Martin Konrád left the position of CEO after nearly a month.
- Radio stations represented by Media Club (the national radio stations Impuls, E2, F1, the regional Kiss, Country and other stations) announced an increase in the prices of ad spots by 12% starting from 1 September.
- The Lidovky.cz server adjusted its design and expanded the section of paid articles. The pay content is offered as part of iDnes Premium (a website affiliated to iDnes.cz). It introduced several new sections including crosswords. The plan is to place more texts from the print Lidové noviny and its magazines to the website.
- YouTube made its short-form video service, YouTube Shorts, available to the Czech market. 15-second videos may only be recorded through a mobile phone.
- A member of the Czech Television Council, H. Lipovská, lodged a complaint with the police relating to several members of ČT management, the Supervisory Committee of the Czech Television Council and Médea. She did not disclose the names nor did she say what her accusations related to.
- TV Prima launched a video website Prima Pauza on its iPrima.cz platform. It is intended for younger users and offers short-form videos. Prima cooperates with Seznam.cz on the website.
- P. Tkáč’s J&T Capital Partners, where his shares in activities with D. Křetínský are consolidated, will assume Tkáč’s 40% share in Czech Media Invest (CMI). CMI includes, for example, CNC.
- A new business website, Newstream.cz, entered the market and is led by the former editor in chief of E15 T. Zavadilová. In addition to business, it should cover lifestyle topics. Its financial partner is the billionaire R. Lapčík.
- The existing CEO of Český rozhlas (ČRo) René Zavoral was re-elected to the CEO position by 7 out of 9 votes. His new six-year mandate will start in January 2022. Three candidates applied to participate in the tender but Zavoral was the only one to meet the formal requirements of the Czech Radio Council.
- The print weekly Týdeník Forum had a first print run of 70 thousand and its price was CZK 30. Its start was intentionally planned for the period before elections. “We want to fight for what is normal,” said the editor in chief Pavel Šafr, giving reasons for the decision.
- Empresa Media entered the segment of TV overview magazines with its weekly TV komplet.
- The Khypo investment group became a new owner of Luxury Guide. The publisher of fashion titles was formed and owned by Milena Žampová. J. Krulcová also entered Luxury Guide.
- On 13 August, pay stations Nova Sport 3 and Nova Sport 4 were launched, offering foreign football leagues.
- On 17 August, O2 TV launched a channel Premier Sport 2 with the Champions League matches.
- Rockaway Capital made an agreement with Czech Media Invest on the purchase of a 50% share in Euromedia Group (Knižní klub, Luxor, Ikar, etc.) and became the sole owner of the major book group.
- On 20 September, Nova 2 was renamed to Nova Fun. It also adjusted its programming to focus on entertainment. Nova Action underwent a redesign of its logo and programming.
- On 4 October, Rádio Rock Max (Media Bohemia) was renamed to Rock Radio. It also expanded to cover a large portion of Moravia.
- Czech News Center (CNC) consolidated its video activities under Czech Video Center including Mall.TV. It also announced the start of projects for a young target group – the Heyfomo.cz website for generation Z and a gaming application Kvízuj.
- The deputies removed Hana Lipovská from the Czech Television Council. 64 out of 80 present deputies voted for her removal. The reason was Lipovská’s candidacy in the Parliamentary elections.
- On Sunday, 5 September, Nova started broadcasting from a new news studio. It was designed in cooperation with the Austrian Veech x Veech design office. Logos of news programmes were also changed.
- A pay internet Talk TV was launched. It was founded by Stanislav Hruška, the author of StandaShow. Its content is available to subscribers for CZK 159 per month. It wants to be “Netflix for video podcasts”.
- All major commercial TV ad market players announced that TV ad prices would grow in 2022. Media Club increases its prices by 11-16%, Nova by 12.5%, Atmedia by 5-10% and ČT by 10%.
- Hospodářské noviny (Economia) introduced a new design of its HN.cz website. The website underwent a graphic and technological redesign and left the iHned.cz domain.
- Česká pošta made an agreement on the purchase of part of PNS, the largest print distributor in the Czech market. The part concerned is the one focusing on subscribed print and mail delivery. Distribution to newsagents was not included in the deal. The transaction is subject to the assessment by the Office for the Protection of Competition.
- CPEx (CNC, Mafra, VLM, Economia) negotiates with Seznam.cz on the introduction of a uniform user identification standard after Google terminates its support for third-party cookies. They announced it at the CIF21 conference.
- On 18 October, a new channel focusing on female viewers Nova Lady was launched, offering predominantly premiere episodes of foreign series and reruns of TV series such as Ulice and Ordinace v růžové zahradě.
- The TV channel Prima Show started broadcasting on 25 October in the afternoon. Its content is based on entertainment and reality shows. It includes the second season of Like House or the localised version of Shopping Queen. The station is seeking to address younger women aged 15-45.
- On 4 October, the publishing of the Marie Claire magazine in Czech was re-launched. It is published by cbm publications, which has close relations to the publisher of the Xantypa magazine.
- On 1 October, Český rozhlas launched a new digital station for older audiences named Pohoda. It is available in DAB+, on the internet or DVB-T2. It is a radio version of the ČT3 TV station.
- Emma Capital owned by Jiří Šmejc purchased a 70% share in Mailstep, which is one of the largest firms focusing on e-commerce distribution. It was originally owned by its founder J. Rozlivka.
- The Polish company Allegro will acquire a 100% share in the Czech e-shop group Mall Group and the courier service WeDo. The deal is worth EUR 975 million (about CZK 24.7 billion). The transaction does not include Vivantis, Mall Pay, Mall.TV and Košík.cz, which were spun off from the Mall Group in the past.
- The NextPage Media publishing house expanded its print portfolio to include the Football Club quarterly.
- Jitka Obzinová was proposed for the position of news director in Český rozhlas. The plan of the Czech public radio’s CEO, R. Zavoral, met with resistance inside ČRo, 600 people signed a petition against the proposal. Finally, Obzinová will not hold the position.
- Seznam established a company named Seznam.cz média for its publishing activities. A new firm Seznam Zprávy and also Seznam.cz TV, the operator of Televize Seznam, will be concentrated under Seznam.cz média.
- Economia (HN, Ekonom, Respekt, Aktuálně.cz, etc.) left the model of a uniform newsroom management and returned to the management of individual titles by editors in chief. The position of the head of content ceased to exist. The portfolio was divided into media and non-media products.
- Česká televize launched a new generation of its video service iVysílání. In the first stage, it wants to offer a better-structured programme catalogue, higher user comfort and programmes shot exclusively for the website.
- The Council for the Radio and Television Broadcasting initiated proceedings with Šlágr TV to revoke the licences for broadcasting the Šlágr TV and Šlágr 2 programmes. This step was justified by the fact that the company was declared bankrupt.