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Italy switches off TV pirates

Italy has been plagued for more than 10 years by dozens of unlicensed Italian pirate broadcasters. Indeed, they have been on air for so long that they have become part of the ‘normal’ transmission pattern.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has received many complaints from countries adjacent to Italy about interference on a total of 61 broadcast frequencies. The first complaints were made in 2005.  Since then the issue was regularly reported to ITU’s Radio Regulations Board, and it involved other countries neighbouring Italy from 2011. The issue was also raised at ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conferences of 2012 and 2015 and to the European Union Radio Spectrum Policy Group from 2012, with slow progress until 2014.

The ITU says that from 2014, under the newly elected government of Matteo Renzi, Sub-Secretary of State Antonello Giacomelli, in charge of telecommunications, initiated the adoption of a series of legislative, regulatory and financial measures to ensure that the use of frequencies by Italian television broadcasters would be brought in line with the relevant international agreements signed by Italy, i.e. ITU’s Radio Regulations and the ITU Regional Agreement, Geneva, 2006, which provides the international framework for terrestrial television broadcasting in the region.

In 2015, the process of applying these measures was initiated by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, together with the Italian Telecommunication Regulator, AGCOM. It was successfully completed on November 29th 2016, with the only exception of the province of Marche, which was recently hit by earthquakes and for which the process has been temporarily suspended.

Houlin Zhao, ITU’s Secretary General, congratulated Sub-Secretary of State Antonello Giacomelli “for his tenacious leadership in the design, adoption and successful implementation of this complex process, overcoming a number of significant political and financial challenges. I am confident that such a process will serve as a reference to other countries in reallocating spectrum in an elegant and efficient way.”

François Rancy, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, also commended Eva Spina, Director General of Spectrum Planning and Management at the Ministry of Economic Development, and Angelo Marcello Cardani, chairman of the Italian Telecommunication Regulator, AGCOM, “for their contribution to bringing Italian television transmissions in conformity with the international regulatory framework, thereby enabling improved provision of digital television broadcasting and mobile broadband in Europe.”

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