The Spanish government has ordered the shutdown of nine DTT channels with nationwide coverage before May 6. That is the final deadline given by the Supreme Court to implement its ruling which has been postponed over the last 16 months.
The Ministry of Industry has required the four broadcasters involved to cease the transmissions. Atresmedia will have to close down three DTT channels and Mediaset, Net TV and Veo TV, two each.
The broadcasters, through industry association UTECA, has decried the measure as “without any known precedent in democratic countries” with citizens as “the most affected as it drastically reduces the audiovisual offer and the TV pluralism.”
Back in November 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the awarding of these nine DTT licences in 2010 was unlawful as no public tender was involved. All broadcaster appeals were refused and the Court urged the Administration to comply with its ruling. The Government has been postponing a decision that has introduced uncertainty in the DTT market. As a result many operators pulled out of the market with the latest victim this week, as Sony Pictures TV Networks dropping its AXN channel from the DTT line-up.
Four years after its full implementation in Spain, DTT is collapsing. Ten DTT channels with nationwide coverage have closed down or moved to a pay-TV platform since the analogue switch-off in 2010. Over the last three years, the mergers between Tele 5 and Cuatro, now under the umbrella of Mediaset, and Antena 3 and La Sexta, now owned by Atresmedia, triggered off the closure of CNN Plus, 40 Latino and La Sexta 2, and the reshuffle of Xplora and La Siete. Some others like La 10, Veo and recently Marca TV and Intereconomia shut down their transmissions for lack of cash.