Mexico: Government to hand out free digital TVs

Mexico’s government has announced an ambitious project to distribute 13.8 million digital TV sets for free during the next 15 months to comply with the analogue switch-off date.

The communication and transportation ministry (SCT) says it will begin handing out 138,000 21-inch sets this month to low-income households followed by about 7.3 million sets in August, and the rest in January and August of next year.

SCT’s plan includes 44.3 per cent of Mexico’s 31.1 million households. Only 25.8 per cent of Mexican homes had digital TVs in 2013, while 69 per cent had analogue sets, according to national statistics agency Inegi. The remaining 5.2 per cent of households does not own a television set.

Last year’s constitutional reforms in telecommunications give the country until end-2015 to complete the digital transition, and the telecoms bill – set for debate and passage at the end of the month or in June – further elaborates on the deadlines.

While the lengthy guidelines published in the official gazette did not specify the total costs, provider names or whether a DTV tender had been published, the government’s total disbursement was estimated at about 19 billion pesos ($1.47bn) according to news magazine Proceso.

The first households that will get DTV sets are in Mexico’s northeast border region, set to take place this month, with distribution continuing westward on the border region in August.

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