From Branislav Pekic in Rome
The Italian Government has allocated a fund of E53.5 million for promoting the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial in 2010.
E12 million will be used for advertising campaigns of local broadcasters in the switch-off areas; E8 million will go towards activities to support the switch-off; E7 million are earmarked for the management of the call centre; another E7 million is intended for press communications and the remaining E19.3 million will be allocated to grants for the purchase of digital boxes.
After 2009, which saw 30 per cent of the Italian population (15.3 million) becoming “all digital”, in 2010 DTT will be deployed in the regions of Lombardy, Eastern Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Liguria. The switchover date in these areas will be defined on January 20 by the National Committee Digital Italy (CNID).
The process in Lombardy and Eastern Piedmont, which was planned for the first half of the year, could slip back to the second half of 2010, to avoid coinciding with the March regional elections. One possibility is that the whole area simultaneously turns off analogue TV after the elections and the World Cup in South Africa in June.
Another open question regards the awarding of five new national digital multiplexes as a result of the digital dividend (two of which are accessible to RAI, Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media, the other three reserved for new entrants to the Italian TV market). The rules have been defined by the Communications Authority (AgCom) and, after approval from the European Commission, a tender will be called by the Ministry of Communications.