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Spain’s broadcasters have switched off the signal of nine DTT channels, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling that set a May 6 deadline to close down the stations.
Atresmedia has closed down three channels, Xplora, Nitro and La Sexta 3; Mediaset, two, La Siete and Nueve; Veo TV and Net TV, two each, teleshopping channels which took the place of AXN, Marca TV, MTV and Intereconomia which had already been removed from the DTT line-up.
The move has reduced the Spanish DTT market by over a third, from 24 channels to 15. The situation could worsen should the Supreme Court accept an appeal from Infraestructuras y Gestion 2002 which argues that eight further DTT channels obtained their licence unlawfully. In any case, the Government plans to call a public tender to award new DTT licences, although the decision will be subject to the availability of sufficient spectrum, once the allocation of the digital dividend is completed before January 2015.
With the Administration’s DTT plans still unclear, UTECA, the private TV Association, has urged the Government to approve a new DTT plan with a ‘legal guarantee’ covering the remaining 15 TV channels to avoid any further setback.
UTECA is seeking Government clarification as to how many channels will ultimately remain, how the migration to other frequencies will be made, what the impact on the sector will be and how much the retuning costs will be.
According to General Director of UTECA, Andres Armas, the Administration should “carry out as soon as possible a global transition plan of the digital dividend that guarantees the present and the future of the DTT with the least number of affected,” adding that the Association was in talks with the Government to reorder the 15 channels with several options open. “At this moment, the future of these 15 channels, of which six are HD, is unknown.”
The electronics industry has also demanded that the whole process be run in parallel with the retuning of the channels to avoid extra costs. It is estimated that every household will pay an average of €20 to adjust the DTT antenna, with a total cost of €500 million and 1.3 million affected homes, according to FENITEL, the Association of installers.
In the meantime, UTECA is proceeding with its legal battle against the closure in the Spanish Constitutional Court, with potential plans to take the case to the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg.