From David Del Valle in Madrid
Spain’s state-owned channel TVE and the telco carrier Abertis Telecom have signed an agreement to extend the channel’s DTT coverage to 100 per cent of the Spanish population of which 1.5 per cent will be made available via satellite.
Under this agreement, Abertis will re-use TVE’s satellite signals already into operation to distribute its DTT channels beyond the Government-imposed condition of a 98.5 per cent coverage. The telco company will adapt the existing CAS (Conditional Access System) for the necessary set-top-boxes.
Abertis Telecom is making the same proposition to other nationwide and even regional broadcasters to extend their DTT coverage (in the case of private TV channels with a nationwide coverage they are obliged to reach a minimum coverage of 96%). The move comes at a time when SES Astra is intensifying its fight against Abertis Telecom and the Spanish Administration over satellite DTT distribution.
The company is challenging DTT public tenders in Madrid and Catalonia arguing that the specifications of the tenders do not mention the satellite distribution to complete the DTT coverage paving the way for a monopoly of Abertis, responsible for DTT signals and main shareholder in Hispasat. The Luxembourg-based company accuses the Spanish Administration of helping out its main competitor in the market Hispasat, controlled by Abertis with a 33.4% stake, to win contracts to distribute DTT via satellite in those areas with poor DTT coverage.
The company recently challenged the DTT tender in Castilla y Leon and is also taking the Regional Government of Cantabria, north of Spain, to Court for cancelling a recent contract to distribute via satellite the DTT signal to the whole region. SES Astra has even announced that it will ask the European Commission for legal protection.