Spain postpones pay DTT to 2009

From David Del Valle in Madrid

Pay TV content on DTT will not happen until 2009, according to the Goverment. The Minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastian, Pay TV content on DTT will not happen until 2009, according to the Goverment. The Minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastian, said that “it is still too early” for the Goverment to allow pay DTT services, and made it a precondition that there was a “consensus” amongst all parties, which he hopes can be reached next year.

“It is early to make a decision, but we want a common agreement in the sector and we are confident that it will happen in 2009. That is why it is still too early to make regulatory decisions”, he concluded.

Spanish legislation currently prohibits the distribution of pay TV content on the DTT platform. Some TV operators are lobbying the Administration to chang the law. The most enthusiastic is the commercial channel La Sexta through its main shareholder Mediapro which recently announced the launch of a pay-TV channel dedicated to sports (mainly football) to be distributed on DTT.

Recently, Jaume Roures, the president of Mediapro, shareholder in La Sexta, warned that the TV sector will go through a crisis if no pay TV content is allowed on DTT. “40 TV free-to-air channels cannot be financed by advertising” he said, at a time when ad revenues have fallen 4.1 per cent to June.

He doubts that the analogue switch-off can take place in 2010 as it is scheduled underlining that the DTT audience share is still too low. Today, Catalonia, north east of Spain, is the Spanish region with the highest DTT penetration, representing 49.7 per cent. Madrid and Canaries are the second and the third with 48.4 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively. On a national level, DTT has a penetration of 34.8 per cent in the country.

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