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GOING DIGITAL

 

Cable TV companies competing for switchers
The scheduled switch to all-digital TV broadcasting is rapidly approaching (see no 289 page 9), yet an estimated 27% or 220,000 of all Latvian households still watch analogue TV. Latvian cable TV companies have begun active advertising campaigns, hoping to get their share of the switchers. Moreover, the companies predict changes in marketplace, such as increased competition and a move towards integrated solutions.

The state bid for terrestrial digital TV roll-out was won by the Latvian telecom company Lattelecom (see no 266 page 8), amidst allegations of unfair competition and overly restrictive terms and conditions.
The company has already sold 70,000 digital TV decoders, thus effectively capturing almost a third of the potential market share.

 

E-book platform

 

Our current aim is to show our readers and other Latvian publishers that a Latvian e-book platform is possible, but we cannot yet speak of any profits "We soon plan to add other back titles of Mr Rubenis, and then start adding other Latvian authors to our offering," adds Mr Polkmanis.

The e-book is not exactly attractively priced, either: the book's paperback version retails for LVL 4.99, but the e-book costs just a little less at LVL 4.16. It also comes with a number of Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions that could make it a hard sell. "The book is released simultaneously in both paperback and e-book, and, at author's request, the e-book price is not substantially lower," Mr Polkmanis explains. "The DRM software, developed by Adobe, has also been a costly investment, but it is necessary to protect the author's copyright."

 

Uncertain future

"The idea has been in the air for a pretty long time, and we decided to seize the moment when the first e-readers finally appeared on the Latvian market. We launched the ebook because our customers asked for it," stresses Mr Polkmanis. Nevertheless, he admits: "There is notable interest in the product, but that has not yet translated in increased demand." "The market remains very uncertain, and making any long-term plans is much like writing in the air," he admits. "Our current aim is to show our readers and other Latvian publishers that a Latvian e-book platform is possible, but we cannot yet speak of any profits." Our current aim is to show our readers and other Latvian publishers that a Latvian e-book platform is possible, but we cannot yet speak of any profits The company is quite well-equipped to make the long-term bet. Zvaigzne ABC is the largest publishing house in Latvia, publishing about 500 new titles every year. It has cornered much of the lucrative textbook market, which has been a steady cash cow for the company, allowing it to post a LVL 1.2m profit in 2008 and LVL 1.5m profit in 2007. Its 2008 turnover reached LVL 10.5m. The company has been working since 1993, when it privatized the state-run Zvaigzne publishing country, which was founded in 1966. It also owns a chain of 24 book stores throughout Latvia.

 

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