Polish Media Companies Team Up on Digital Film Channel

Stopklatka TV, a joint venture of Kinopolska and media group Agora, won a license after getting support from many top Polish filmmakers, including Roman Polanski.

GYDNIA, Poland – Two of Poland's leading media companies have won a TV license that gives them the right to launch the country's first digital movie channel.

Free-to-view channel Stopklatka TV, a joint initiative by film channel Kinopolska, its online film portal Stopklatka (which means "freeze frame") and print and online media group Agora, won the backing of Polish filmmakers before the National Council of Radio and Television's decision in its favor.

The channel includes top filmmakers Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland and Juliusz Machulski on its board and received support from more than 100 Polish filmmakers in a recent open letter to the broadcasting council.

Roman Polanski, in a separate letter to the council's president, Jan Dworak, wrote: "If my voice can have any influence on the decision to grant a license for Stopklatka TV, it wholeheartedly supports this endeavor."

The new network, due to go on air in April, beat off competition from such groups as one backed by the Polish Filmmakers Association, a fact that contributed to the vocal support by some for Stopklatka's bid, reflecting deep divisions within the Polish filmmaking community.

Stopklatka TV will be required to broadcast 40 percent Polish films. The station also plans to screen European and world movies and a lineup that includes TV programs for children and young people, documentaries and special events.

Content will be aired on traditional TV platforms and other devices via the Internet.

Boguslaw Kisielewski, CEO of both Stopklatka and Kinopolska, thanked those who had supported the license bid. "I am convinced that pooling such vast experience and expertise is the best guarantee of quality and attractiveness of the channel," he said. "We are also grateful for the many voices of support from the filmmakers, journalists and all those who have supported our efforts to obtain a license. Their involvement and influence was very important to us."

Bartosz Hojka of Agora's board of directors noted that the license marked his company's entry into the TV market. "This activity will complement our media portfolio and offer to customers well. It is also the largest piece of the advertising market, in which we have been involved."

Agora is committed to taking a 41 percent stake in Kinopolska as part of the collaboration agreement, and the two companies plan to invest more than $6 million in launching the station.

The stocks of both companies were up Tuesday morning on news of the license award.

Three other new digital channels are also due to launch in Poland next year, focusing on children's entertainment, education and social/religious issues, respectively.