The Italian government has suspended a planned DTT frequency auction, in the wake of protests from neighbouring Malta and Croatia who expressed concerned about possible interference from Italy with TV reception in their markets.
The countries submitted formal protests to Italy’s Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AgCom) regarding the framework of the ongoing public consultation on the regulations for the planned DTT frequency auction.
According to reports, Rome’s minister for economic development tweeted that he was ordering the suspension of the so called ‘beauty contest’.
A total of six multiplexes were available: three U lots in the 700 MHz band (UHF channels 54, 55 and 58) for five years (after which they will be reassigned), plus three L lots for TV use only during a 20-year period.
RAI and Mediaset, which already own four digital multiplexes (DVB-H/DVB-T2 standard), will be able to ask for them to be converted to DVB-T – but can only complete for one of the U lots under the condition that they do not convert it from DVB-T to DVB-H.
New players or small broadcasters with one multiplex (such as Europa 7, ReteCapri, D-free) will be able to compete for all three L lots of multiplexes. Existing owners of two multiplexes (i.e. Rete A/L’Espresso) can apply for two out of three, while operators active on other platforms (such as Sky Italia) can compete for only one multiplex.
Following the change of government in Rome, the decision was made to auction off the multiplexes, in the anticipation of earning an estimated €2 billion to €4 billion to be distributed among local broadcasters and for the expansion of broadband coverage.