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As the switch to digital TV draws ever closer, Latvian regional TV stations get increasingly concerned about their future. The regional TVs are small, local TV stations which still use analogue broadcasting. Given their limited size, audience and financial means, they may not afford the switch to digital.

A new proposal aims to solve the problem by uniting the TV stations into an all-Latvian regional TV channel which would then be available digitally and without any extra charge. The idea has already gained support from Nacionala radio un televizijas padome (NRTP; National Radio and Television Council), a government agency overseeing and co-ordinating the switch to digital TV. NRTP points out that this would allow regional stations to expand their coverage. The proposed TV channel could be added to the Lattelecom's digital TV free package, which already includes five national TV channels.




Norwegian Dag Harald Johansen, a call centre entrepreneur, has established U-Torn Invest in Kaunas that will serve as the holding company for its current and future investments in Lithuania and Norway.
"The holding will own the Unicall call centre business in Lithuania and Norway, the business that I own with a partner. I also have initial ideas about other investments in Lithuania, most likely in the property business, so these, if carried out, will also be placed with U-Torn," says Mr Johansen to news2biz, adding that the company name actually refers to the names of his children and wife.
"Although the Kaunas operation is not the biggest within our group, it has developed into our knowledge hub, so to speak. We have group CFO based here, as well as the group-level IT department. I too spent a lot of time in Lithuania, and the country's holding taxation regime is not worse than in Norway, so I think I and Unicall stand a lot to win from the move," explains Mr Johansen.

Meanwhile, the call centre in Kaunas, Unicall Media Group, is evolving to a more locally-focused operation. "Today we have a 50/50 breakdown of sales between Norway and Lithuania. Soon Lithuania's input should grow to 70% as volumes in Norway have been hit by the crisis and are slow to recover, while in Lithuania we've landed a few promising contracts for which we don't even have to employ foreign speaking staff," says Mr Johansen.
The success of new Lithuanian projects actually sent Unicall hiring when everyone around was downsizing: today the firm employs 80 staff (around 60 in full-time equivalent), up by around 30 compared to the beginning of 2009.
But expansion in Kaunas is just part of Unicall's ongoing growth. The next day after news2biz spoke to Mr Johansen, Unicall debuted in a new market, Poland. "We're starting with 15-20 people there, in Warsaw, because we landed a contract from a local Norwegian-owned customer," he says. "And we are already planning to expand - around May, June we will know where outside Warsaw we will have our facility." Beside the three countries, Uni-call is also present in the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Romania, employing close to 600 staff (around 400 full-time jobs) in 11 call centres. The Norwegian and Czech units are the biggest in terms of staff.


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