Spain paves the way for HD DTT

From David Del Valle in Madrid

The Spanish Government is to approve a Royal Decree before the analogue switch-off, scheduled for March 30th, which will lay the groundwork for the launch of HD through DTT.

To foster HD, the Administration will oblige all electronic manufacturers to include an integrated HD decoder in all TV sets from 21''. The operators will be able to offer as many HD channels as technically possible. In the case of sharing a multiplex with another operator, both broadcasters will have to reach an agreement to broadcast in HD.

So far, only digital satellite platform Digital Plus is offering a wide range of HD channels, around 10 with plans to double in the future. Several Regional channels, like the Catalonian TV3 or Aragon TV, are also operating HD channels, with Madrid-based Telemadrid starting HD transmissions. State-owned channel TVE plans to launch TVE HD after the analogue switch-off.

The Royal Decree will also allocate the final DTT multiplexes to broadcasters. Each nationwide private broadcaster will operate a whole multiplex with a capacity of up to 5 channels with the state-owned group RTVE exploiting two with up to 8 channels. At the same time, regional TV stations will operate two multiplexes.

The number of DTT channels to more than 45 TV channels. The number of pay DTT channels will significantly increase as the pay DTT platform, operated by Abertis Telecom, and managed by Mediapro, shareholder in La Sexta, plans to shortly distribute between 4 and 8 channels at a fee of around E25 a month.

There are already 11 million DTT homes in the country with 27 million DTT devices sold. More than 85 per cent of Spanish homes have access to DTT with an audience share of 56.5 per cent.

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