3 options for Portuguese DTT expansion

Portugal’s Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (ERC) [Regulatory Entity for the Media] has submitted a study to the National Assembly, commissioned from Deloitte, outlaying the different options for the further expansion of DTT.

Currently, TV viewers in Continental Portugal can receive seven free-to-air TV channels on DTT (RTP, RTP2, SIC, TVI, ARTV, RTP Memória, RTP 3), while RTP Madeira and RTP Açores are also available on the islands.

Compared to other leading Western European TV markets, Portugal has the least number of multiplexes (one) and the lowest number of TV channels (seven). Also, the DTT platform does not carry HD channels, radio stations or HbbTV services.

Three possible models have been identified by the study for the nationwide distribution of FTA services via DTT in Portugal.

Model A sees the maximisation of the current capacity of Mux A with the introduction of two new FTA channels in SD format.

Model B suggests the evolution from the DVB-T standard to DVB-T2, enabling the expansion of the capacity of Mux A to 13 FTA channels in the SD format.

Finally, Model C proposes the inclusion of other distribution platforms such as cable, FTTH and xDSL. In this case, the number of HD channels would vary between seven and 13 and it would also be possible to offer interactive content.

Models B and C could only be implemented after the expiry of the existing contract with DTT network operator Meo, (after 2023). Mux 1 has a 90.12 per cent coverage of Continental Portugal, while other areas are covered via satellite.

Significantly, no market player has shown an interest in introducing a pay-TV model on DTT, due to the difficulty in creating a viable business plan. In fact this was mentioned by Meo in its request to revoke the licences to operate Muxes B to F.

It is worth noting that 79 per cent of Portuguese households primarily receive subscription TV via cable, fibre and satellite, while only 21 per cent rely on DTT as their primary means of watching TV.

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