From Branislav Pekic in Rome
The Croatian Government has decided to accelerate the process for the introduction of digital terrestrial TV, by providing incentives for the acquisition of STBs.
Special coupons worth HRK 200 (E27) will be distributed to regular TV licence payers in the coastal region of Istria, which will enable them acquire digital boxes at a discount. All of the coupons should be distributed by November 20 and their owners will have until 30 June 2008 to use them. Istria has been selected as the first test area as it suffers the most interference in the reception of analogue signals, especially from broadcasters in neighbouring Italy.
The local population will be able to receive digital TV channels from two multiplexes. The existing one, on UHF channel 28, will in the future be used exclusively by private broadcasters (Nova TV, RTL Televizija, plus two more channels to be licensed). A second multiplex, recently activated on UHF channel 53, will carry the channels of state broadcaster Hrvatska Televizija. Viewers can currently receive the HRT 1 and HRT 2 channels, to be jointed by HRT 3 (sports and entertainment) and HRT 4 (news) from 1 January 2008.
Croatia is aiming to completely switchover to digital TV by 2010, two years earlier than the EU deadline.