Advanced Television

RAI and Mediaset to provide digital frequencies

November 6, 2007

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Italy’s communications regulator, AGCOM, has recommended that public broadcaster RAI and commercial rival Mediaset should make available 40 per cent of the capacity on their digital multiplexes to smaller broadcasters and new operators.

AGCOM has also established that independent media groups, and national operators that need to extend digital coverage and local operators can take part in the tender that will award the surplus capacity. The regulator claims that both RAI and Mediaset control about 40 per cent of the existing analogue frequencies, which is more spectrum than they need. As a result, new companies wishing to enter the market and smaller broadcasters find it difficult to acquire the frequencies they need in order to grow.

AGCOM is seeking to introduce greater competition in the TV sector before the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial by 2012. However, it is worth pointing out that the recommendation is not binding and it remains to be seen when the Italian Parliament will debate the measure.

Meanwhile, two digital TV channels based in the northern Italian region of Valle d’Aosta are reversing to analogue terrestrial. Rete St-Vincent and the E21 Network said the decision was motivated because laws governing the TV sector make it too difficult to broadcast in digital. The two channels said they plan to switch back to digital technology when it becomes more viable.

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